Yamato Drummers of Japan

Last Monday evening in Utrecht, we went to watch the amazing performance of Yamato Drummers of Japan. It was actually a surprise from my boyfriend who, a few days earlier, asked me to keep that evening free. After a relaxing stroll around the city center and leisurely pre-theater dinner, we entered the auditorium, and what a pleasant surprise it all was! Yamato Drummers are a group from Japan whose specialty lies in the traditional taiko drums. That’s right, Taiko are those huge drums, but they do come in different sizes and forms.

A talented bunch of youngsters in their 20s/30s, they not only drum but also play other traditional Japanese instruments like the Shamisen, a three-stringed instrument resembling a banjo except the body is square rather than round. Whilst the string is made of silk, the body itself is derived from the skin of cats and dogs. But don’t fret, nowadays they are made of synthetic material although many argue the sound is never the same.

Another traditional instrument played was the Shinobue flute. Initially I thought it was called Shakuhachi because that’s the only Japanese wind instrument I was familiar with but I was wrong! The shinobue is thinner and played sideways like a proper flute, whilst the shakuhachi is a bit bigger and played outwards in the frontal direction like, say, the oboe. The traditional wind instruments are typically made of bamboo, and the shinobue in particular is one which accompanies taiko drumming.

And altogether they make such a harmonious combo that is composed of String (shamisen) as Wind (shinobue) and Percussion (taiko). Additional percussional accompaniments can also include metallic instruments such as the gong, cymbals and suzu bells. See what the three main one looks like there though!

As you have noticed, I was so mesmerized by Monday evening’s performance that I was keen to create some kawaii illustrations about it! It was quite a challenge sketching these since I lack experience in capturing actions; much of my characters are normally standing still for instance. This required me to sketch first with pencil, and after lots of trials and errors and erasing and starting over again, I managed. Once I was happy with it, I went over the sketch with some black Kuretake ZIG Cartoon markers in fine and medium. And here is what the whole picture looks like, as I practiced on my large sketchbook.

I definitely need to practice and focus more on action illustrations! Whilst I am fine with the facial expressions, I should like to have a go with hand positions and posture for instance. Doodling a bit about the Yamato Drummers gave me the chance to be more aware of what I could work on. Now based on these cute little drawings, I might also like to develop some into a more detailed sketch or a painting soon!

Click here for more about the Yamato Drummers of Japan!

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