Thursday, December 26, 2013


It's not as common as it used to be, but sometimes I hear people asking if what they're playing is authentic taiko, or if another group is really authentic, etc.

Take a group like Kodo, were they "more authentic" in the past?  From playing more "staple" kumidaiko pieces that inspired so many taiko groups around the world, to taking on more world music into their repertoire, to the new direction of Tamasaburo Bando with daring costuming and theatrical elements, are they now "less authentic" than they used to be?  If they are, does it mean they're not as good?

And just what is "authentic"?  The online Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition says:
  1. Real or genuine : not copied or fake
  2. True and accurate
  3. Made to be or just look like an original
So if Kodo has male members wearing sexy outfits and glitter/makeup, is that not original?  Is it not true to their direction?  Seems pretty authentic to me.  Following that logic, taiko can be anything as long as it's played from a genuine place, right?

Sometimes the question about what is authentic is a sneaky way to not say what someone really thinks.  When I hear someone question another group's authenticity, what I hear is "That's not what I consider to be taiko."  And I want to ask those people what they think taiko "is", because it's a question that ultimately leads to "I just don't like what they're doing."  It has nothing to do with authenticity.

Don't waste time wondering if what you play is authentic.  Those who bring up that question about other groups only oppress and stifle, whether they mean to or not.  It's a term that limits people's ability to truly express themselves, to be a stronger player.  That's a negative energy that no one needs.  If you play from the heart, then you are being genuine, and I'll take genuine over "authentic" any day.

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