Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Yoshida Brothers' shamisen music

There are two ways to breathe new life into an old art form: the bad way and the good way. An example of the former is the fusion of classical music with disco in Night on Disco Mountain. (It's cheesy and fun, but let us give thanks that the disco-plus-classical-music trend did not outlive disco itself.)


Japan's Yoshida Brothers, on the other hand, are an example of artists who revitalize a traditional art form while maintaining the form's essence.


Ryoichiro and Kenichi Yoshida are two real-life brothers who play the shamisen, a traditional Japanese stringed instrument. Many of their pieces start slow and build up to a string-picking frenzy—think "Dueling Banjos" but with shamisen.


Below are two videos of shamisen-only pieces. The first piece, Kodo, you may recognize from the Nintendo Wii commercials.


Kodo (Pulse)


Tsugaru Jongara


—Mellow Monk


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