Nakatani drums Chism Hall into delighted fervor

Mallory Martin

Contemporary improv drummer Tatsuya Nakatani has traveled the world performing his unique style of percussion. On Monday, Oct. 17, he visited Whitman’s Chism Auditorium to play for a small crowd.

Over the years, Nakatani has created a musical technique all his own. Using his own design of specially crafted violin bows to play gongs and cymbals to play drums, his music is like nothing you have heard before. Adding to the unique quality of his work, Nakatani plays his music depending on what he feels in the moment, allowing for each concert to be a distinct experience.

“The way he tuned into different frequencies and really milked out those gongs was amazing,” said Assistant Professor of Music Doug Scarborough after the concert. “It was as much a visual treat as it was an audio treat.”

First-year percussionist Austin Sloane was equally impressed.

“That was amazing,” said Sloane. “What really interested me was the control of the music, how actions as in dropping an instrument or dropping the cymbal were combined with what he was playing in the moment. Everything was very purposeful.”

Nakatani’s instruments include one small and three large gongs, two drums, an assortment of cymbals and Tibetan “singing bowls.” He began developing his sound after he realized that he was stuck in the same pattern of drum playing. He tried mixing things up and realized that he liked creating new ways of drumming.

“Everybody has their sound,” Nakatani explained. “If you go to hear a trumpeter you expect to hear that certain brass sound. This, this is my sound.”

Nakatani acknowledges that his form of music isn’t for everyone, especially those with sensitive ears.

“Not everyone is as tuned into those higher frequencies,” said Nakatani. “Little kids feel my music in their teeth sometimes; they tend to be more sensitive.”