Archive for May, 2013

Bizarre Heroes the album

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Okay… So not going to crush my first video that is okay. I got off topic and forgot a mention a bunch of stuff. Like we have a revamped music page powered by Bandcamp. And forget about the part when I said our early stuff is too eclectic and doesn’t work… It’s all awesome and our previous two albums are also available through Bandcamp and you should probably get them if you don’t have them already. Our album will be available at for a month then you’ll be able to find it on iTunes, CDBaby and at your local taiko fusion music store. Take a listen and I hope you enjoy the album!

Biking to Invitationals – Day 3

Saturday, May 25th, 2013


Day 3
miles today: 45.3
total miles: 160.2
mood: Inspired!
highlight: Beethoven’s Eroica by the San Diego Symphony.

I made it to San Diego! It was a delightful day of scenic riding interspersed with stops at vegan restaurants. My appetite seems to have caught up with me so I picked a good day for hot meals.

Unfortunately, at about mile 15 today, my rear wheel started making a bit of a grinding noise. I’ve heard something similar when I had a broken axle. The bike shop owner said, “If I take it apart, it will only go back together fixed, and I’m not confident I have the part.” Me: “Would you ride it to LA?” Him: “Nope.”

So my return trip will likely be bus or Amtrak. I’m disappointed to not try my first 70+ mile day… and my painstakingly tailored maps go to waste! But I’m stopping while I’m ahead. This has been an absolutely wonderful way to travel. New rule for workshops: distances of 150 miles or fewer, ride!

Biking to Invitationals – Day 2

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013


Day 2
miles today: 63.7
total miles: 114.9
mood: Satisfyingly tired.
highlight: The portion of Old Pacific Highway that’s been converted into a beautiful (and wide!) bike path.

Riding through San Onofre State Park was nice, and making my way through the military base was fine. I’m not sure whether it’s because it’s day two, or because 60 miles is really different than 50 miles, but I’m much more tired today. Nothing hurts in a bad way though, so a long night of sleep should set me right.

Assuming everything goes well, I’ll reach UCSD tomorrow afternoon, then continue south to downtown San Diego to see Joshua Bell with the San Diego Symphony. A reward for another 60+ mile day!

Biking to Invitationals – Day 1

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013


Day 1
today’s miles: 51.2
total miles: 51.2
mood: great! Slight elbow soreness but otherwise okay!
highlight: Cashews and mulberry snack in the bath after arriving at hotel. Food tastes amazing after a long ride!

I’m relieved my self-printed maps are working fine. I used Google maps with “bike” routing and carefully tweaked the turn-by-turn maps to help me with the easy-to-miss bike path intersections. Printing the pages two per side, double-sided, also keeps the total sheets down and makes the papers easily foldable for a back pocket. It took hours to prep the trip but I think it’ll prove worth it. Hopefully tomorrow will be as smooth going!

Matsuri Crashers Battle Structures

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013


At Matsuri Crashers battles, slant-drum players take turns performing their solos and the audience votes on who wins. Participants prepare for the battle by composing their solos to match one of the six available Matsuri Crashers structures. These structures define the length of the solos, the tempo, and the base-beat.

Each battle has the same rough form.

  • Soloist A announces the structure (“kakeai”)
  • Soloist A plays their solo
  • Soloists switch places
  • Soloist B plays their solo
  • Soloist B guides voting (“shobu”)

Structure videos

Also see notated versions and audio recordings below.

Structure scores

Structure audio recordings (mp3/ogg format)
(Note: these recordings were made with the original structures in 2011. Minor changes may have been made since then, but these are still useful for practice. See the printed structures for a definitive score.

Original graphics file (Inkscape SVG format)

(The video, notation, and audio recordings, as well as the source compositions are released under the Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license.)

Matsuri Crashers Solo Prep – Step 2

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Knowing how much practice time you’ll have in the next two months, the next step is decide whether you want to learn a pre-existing solo, or create a new one, or most likely, something in-between. In the matsuri_crashers_solo_prep_flowchart.pdf you can see my guess at how much practice each option will require.

Whichever course you chart, it’s useful to start by becoming familiar with the Matsuri Crashers Battle Structures. There are currently six (and soon seven, I hope) structures from which to pick, and each one features a different base-beat and theme. Participants compose their solos to match their chosen structure, we pair that person up with someone else with a solo of that structure, and they battle!

Step 2) Check out the Structures in the upcoming post and get excited about one of them!

Biking to Invitationals

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013


The Intercollegiate Taiko Invitational is being hosted by Asayake Taiko of UCSD this weekend. Still in the honeymoon phase of my no-car new lifestyle, I thought I’d challenge myself to ride my bike to San Diego. It’s about 150 miles one-way, so I’ll be making the trip over the course of three days.

It looks like I’ll be heading through some beautiful places, and straight through Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. I called yesterday and apparently they let cyclists through with ID. Wish me luck.

Hiro and I have taken long trips on our tandem recumbent (“Alphonse”) but this will be the farthest I’ve tried to ride on a regular upright bike. If you see me with a cowboy swagger, you’ll know why.

Matsuri Crashers Solo Prep – Welcome, Step 1

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Matsuri Crashers Solo Prep Step By Step
Next Battle: July 28 in Torrance CA

In the coming 9 weeks, I’ll be guiding participants through preparing a solo for the next Matsuri Crashers battle, to be held on Sunday July 28, 2013, in conjunction with the opening of Asano Taiko US and the Los Angeles Taiko Institute. I’ll be teaching battle workshops in LA and San Diego, posting videos, and providing feedback to individuals… basically doing anything I can to enable you to join us! If you would like to receive weekly emails as part of the program, subscribe here.

Flowchart: matsuri_crashers_solo_prep_flowchart.pdf

Take a look at the Matsuri Crashers Two-Month Solo Prep Step By Step flowchart. It outlines the rough order of events I’ll be following and will give a sense of the overall process. Of course, you’re welcome to follow whatever process works for you to have a solo ready by July 28!

Step 1) Make space for practice

The program begins with you making space for practice. You will need between three and 10 practice sessions between now and the battle. These can be before or after your weekly group practices. They can be at home on the weekend, in the garage, playing on a tire. The biggest challenge of these battles is proper preparation. Making space for practice now will help resist procrastination and the frailty of practice time. Feel free to send me your scheduled dates/times (kris at on ensemble dot org) to strengthen your commitment.

Need further inspiration?

Our artform of taiko is the *only* music or dance form I can think of where performers don’t practice on their own. Even the most humble music program at the most humble elementary school gives a student a trumpet to take home and use in practice. Arranging a way to practice on your own is the biggest thing you can do to improve your taiko. Overcome that first barrier and it will benefit you for years to come. Find time to use your group’s, borrow a drum, or cobble together something resembling a drum and schedule your practices today!

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