Tsugaru Shamisen + Taiko + Polish Folk Dance?


Hello brain trust. I’m looking for some advice on adapting a song to be played on tsugaru shamisen.

A while back the creative director for my taiko group started arranging a Polish folk dance song called Taniec Chasydzki to be played on taiko (along with elaborate choreography) backed by a few instruments to carry the melody including shamisen. Currently we have a clarinet and violin and should be adding a cello. His original idea is that it that the shamisen would take the place of the dulcimer (including the solo) to add some flavor to the other instruments. I think this could work, but it will take a lot of alterations since the two play very differently. Take a listen.

I would love to add the dynamics and percussiveness of tsugaru shamisen to the song, but my background is mostly minyo along with lessons from Bachido so my tsugaru experience is somewhat limited. I’ve got a good idea of what to play, but I was hoping to get some advice and suggestions on tsugaru techniques, phrases/kamashi, style, etc. that my limited experience would make me miss. Thanks.


Joel, that is interesting. I can’t comment on shamisen since I’m way too beginner. But my first impression when listening to this track was that it would fit with Chindon Ya, Japanese street performers that mix a taiko/percussion outfit along other players that could include clarinet, sax, trumpet, shamisen, etc., a post-war Big Band-like performance. The other possibility is a travel-sized koto, with mic or pickups. A Korean group called Geomungo Factory has modified the geomungo, some with metal strings, some with silk strings, some sized for bass, others played with a bow, another electric not acoustic but I don’t know the specifics of how. Even without big modifications, the smaller koto can be held upright, like on the lap while sitting or held while standing. The shamisen would of course be easier to travel with =).


Do you have similar pieces to go as a basis. Eg. shamisen + violin here:

Kevin & co have done a fair bit of east european style stuff. Ten Ten I think used a clarinet too.


Hey Joel, I know I’m late to this thread… did anything come of your polish folk + taiko + shamisen arrangement? I play in a taiko group… and am also Polish… and now playing shamisen… so I’d love to hear this if your group ended up doing it :slight_smile:


I think this could be a great example of uniqueness and originality. I may seem a bit too obvious, but ok…


Thanks for following up Kamil. We did perform it and it came together really well. Long story short, we’re having some issues working with the videographer and obtaining the footage. As soon as I have it I’ll be sharing it with the Bachido community.


Please let us listen! share the video


That’s awesome that it happened. I hope to see the video some time. Keep us posted Joel!