BILL PARR – JAPANESE CULTURAL PERFORMANCE ARTIST

In February, composer and musician Bill Parr developed a new multi-media piece, and his workshops thrilled pupils at the Cape School

My interests reside firmly in Japanese culture; I teach both Wadaiko (Japanese drumming) and Iaijutsu, (the martial art of the Japanese sword) and in my residency at Brisons Veor I practiced both… Wadaiko and Iaijutsu are part of my character; they invigorate and nurture my soul and this drives me to pass on this experience to others.
Wadaiko (taiko) drumming pieces are often composed and performed with inspiration taken from the immediate surroundings and local culture, and my intention was to use the unique location to compose a piece with choreography and lighting to echo the essential winter spirit of Brisons Veor. The Ji Uchi or driving rhythm was inspired by the melody of a traditional Cornish folk song and music linked to the traditions of tin mining and fishing. I was fortunate in that my experience was enhanced by the most awesome storms and seas I’ve encountered in my life thus far; the very building rumbled and vibrated with percussive winds and waves; marble sized hail and fat rain spattered and rattled in rolling crescendos against the vulnerable windows every day. The final piece is indeed unique, incorporating styles of playing and movement that I’ve not yet attempted, yet were insistent in their need to be expressed.
Composition absolutely demands the seclusion and withdrawal from everyday life that Brisons Veor provides and as I wouldn’t use real Japanese drums (so as not to alienate local folk) I took a Korg wavedrum, Boss looper and headphones to compose with. (When we practice here in Thanet on the secluded beaches with real drums the rhythm can be heard (and felt!) two bays each way along the coast…no wonder that Japanese drum makers say the rumbling drums awaken dragons… )
The end result was the composition of a unique piece, along with choreography and lighting, expressing the winter spirit and traditions of the granite cliffs and relentless seas of Cape Cornwall. The piece will be taught to my Wadaiko students, and also incorporated into our performance repertoire to be transmitted to our many audiences throughout the years.

Japanese drumming

Japanese drumming

I took the opportunity to offer to perform and run mini workshops at Cape Cornwall School. The Head of Music, Kevin Lane, took me up on my offer and the result was an immense Friday morning on stage at the school, teaching and performing with three separate groups of students with both drums and katana!

drumming workshop

drumming workshop

Each hour began with a brief history of drum and sword, then performances with both, followed by the students enthusiastically playing traditional pieces on the taiko and asking pertinent questions at Q &A sessions !
Honestly, it doesn’t get much better than that, and I’m hoping to follow up with a residency to compose a Summer piece….

Bill Parr

http://www.kenseitaiko.com