Leo Classics "Sounds
that are to remain and be left in the 22nd century." The 22nd century is
83 years from now. The materials used for taiko have a good chance of being
replaced with new ones. Will new styles of expression come into being
accordingly? I am skeptical about it. If the essence of the taiko sound is not
known, the attractive expression can't arise. Rather, the taiko culture itself
It has been quite a while
since taiko was made to appear in various events (which don't seem to be related
to music nor culture) at home and abroad. Some groups do showy performances just
for the sake of regional vitalization. Others are eager in going on stage
overseas in any case. As a result, today's performance of taiko can't be seen
not as music but as nothing more than "means to an end".
In the 1980s,
when I, along with other members of Kodo, played the Katsugi Oke taiko and
Hirado O-taiko with all smiles, establishing a taiko ensemble, the seeds of
creation were sowed around the world. At that time, the reaction from the
audience was controversial. But we didn’t give up. This is because taiko is not
a "means"; it is undoubtedly "our way of expression!"
As the historical
background is totally different, it might be meaningless to argue about the
difference between the original and an imitation. But for better or worse, being
the one that generated this current, I feel that I must face the world of taiko
with a broad vision once again. Even if time changes and the material is lost
and becomes different, I hope that the spirit and wisdom when engaging with
taiko will be handed down to the next generation forever.
Of course I
have no intention to deny my message carried through the tunes "ZOKU" and
"IRODORI", which I composed in the 1980s. But these tunes have already been
evaluated quite enough. If they are loved from now on, they should remain anyway
without my taking any action. Tunes are to get around by themselves as soon as
they come into existence.
How much can I express with only the sound of
taiko? I am thinking about adding a taiko ensemble to my music career once
again. Scenes that attract the audience do not appear from transient events;
they are created by everyday performances. Now, "Leo Classics"
Leonard Eto "Blendrums"
Blendrums (blend + drums) is a word coined by Leonard Eto. It has been
one of Leonard Eto’s projects since the CD “Blendrums” was released in
The staged is filled with free way of expressing sound and percussion instruments
are fascinating. The attractive sound of taiko always exists even in dynamic
performances of drums and tap dancing. Leonard Eto’s arrangement harmonize
each sound to create a three-dimensional sound atmosphere.
Since 2009, Leonard has made 3 Europeans tours, one to East Africa (2011), and one to Central Asia (2012).
Image from DVD "Power of Blendrums"(2011)
"MIDNIGHT THEATER" with drums
"MOON SLIDER" with tap
"ELEPHANT GATE" with Zakir Hussain (tabla)
Creative Collaboration of Dancing
When Leonard Eto went to West Africa in 1991, he came across a spirit possession
ritual. Since the shocking experience, the deep connection between dancing
and drums stuck in his mind.
Before long, it became the rich source for creating dancer’s movements.
Leonard Eto is now producing music with a new concept of taiko and dance
"Silently She Dances" (2016)
Direction: Leonard Eto, Script: Tsunehiro Takashina
Music by Leonard Eto
Choreograph by Niina Maeda, Naoki Inui
"TAMAGO" (2014) Music by Leonard Eto, Choreograph by Yasuyuki Endo Ballet National de Marseille
The sounds of O-taiko, a huge drum, which can be symbolic of all Japanese
drums, are the very beat of life. In this work, "TAMAGO", O-taiko
represents an egg, the origin of life. Rhythms beat out from O-taiko give
a birth of a creature.
Durante tutto il 2014 Leonard Eto sara artista in residenza del CRT Milano al Teatro dell'arte.
Leonard Eto was appointed as a "Residence Artist 2014" for the
Teatro della'Arte in Milano, Italy.
Images of collaboration with Compagnia Susanna Betrami
(C) Change Performing Arts / CRT Milano
Japan Cultural Envoy
Assigned to the Japan Cultural Envoy mission by the Agency for Cultural
Affairs of Japan, Leonard Eto performed overseas for a period of one year
mainly in European countries from August 2013 to July 2014.
Starting in the Swiss mountains, Leonard Eto performed with dancers and
musicians coming from 9 different countries such as France, Italy, Germany
and India and fully displayed his skills during this period. The image
is just a portion of his activities during the year.
"ENCOUNTER" (Oude Kerk in Amsterdam) This was one of the most solemn and dynamic performance during the mission. A joint performance with a pipe organ set in an old church built 450 years ago. Not being able to make eye contact with each other, the impromptu performance in the old church letting out overwhelming tremors surely resulted in an “Encounter Between Heaven and Earth”.
Session in Switerland on TV
with Samba Diabate and Vincent Zanetti in CIME Festival
Festival in Goa
Zambhala Festival in Goa, India
Collaboration in Hungary on TV
with group "Bazseva" at Fono Budai Zenehaz in Budapest, Hungary
Oke Taiko is a signature model supervised by Leonard Eto. Adopted to the taiko are the important “light weight” and “power”. The tremor and rim of the highly-durable silver-carbon body has been optimized.
“Oke Taiko Leonard Eto Model” is made hard to be influenced by stage conditions.
This instrument gives out brighter sounds than the full-bodied O-taiko because of its shallow body. A colorful variety of sounds can be obtained by using different Bachi sticks. Leonard Eto invented the method of using a long Bachi stick. He also devised a revolutionary style of playing this O-taiko when he was composing "ZOKU" (1989), and that is to place the taiko in a slanted angle on tree stumps.
The style has won much popularity ever since.