Shunsuke Kimura x Etsuro Ono
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Shunsuke Kimura x Etsuro Ono

London, England, United Kingdom | SELF

London, England, United Kingdom | SELF
Band World




"National Geographic Music Attends Borneo's Rainforest World Music Festival"

People are listening to music from all over the world. The best part of this event is when you come across a sound or a genre of music that blows you away, something you've never heard before. The Kimura-Ono Duo from Japan was one of these moments. Players of the Tsugaru Shamisen, an instrument used by blind musicians who traveled through snow storms house-to-house for food. The only way people would come out of their homes is if the musicians were good. This created a highly technical, fast music. The speed and power behind the music makes one think of Megadeth or Metallica. "I was shocked and impressed and it sounded like rock music to me, like Van Halen, who I love," says Etsuro Ono.
The music has become a trend of sorts in Japan with contests to test player's skill and speed throughout the country. Shunsuke Kimura, who is also an accomplished flute player, explains why musicians are able to go on such incredible improvisational tangents, "you look and hear other people, the music is not noted. That way you can improvise."
With all of the musicians staying in one hotel with no other restaurant or bar in comfortable walking distance, the theme of every night was improvisations. Into the morning hours, jam sessions continue with some of the strangest combinations.
- Maria Bakkalapulo National Geographic

"Sounds of Japan on Radio 3"

It will have been impossible to ignore the terrible events unfolding in Japan since the earthquake and tsunami struck last Friday. Three weeks ago though, when Japanese musicians Etsuro Ono and Shunsuke Kimura came into the World on 3 studio for a session with Mary Ann Kennedy, it was hard to imagine quite how things would change for the Japanese people.

Shunsuke and Etsuro were in the UK to perform at the Hibiki festival of Japanese music at Kings Place in London, and we managed to find time to bring them into the studio before they returned home to Japan. Shunsuke and Etsuro perform the folk music of Northern Japan on the tsugaru-shamisen, a three stringed plucked lute that hails from the Tsugaru region of the north of Honshu island. The way the tsugaru-shamisen is played results in a highly percussive sound, as the large plectrum slams against the taut skin of the instrument. The sound is reminiscent of a pair of duelling banjos, but with a unique shifting Japanese tonality. Originally the tsugaru-shamisen was played by itinerant blind musicians, and is part of a story telling tradition in Japan. Now Etsuro and Shunsuke are pushing the music forward, incorporating new rhythms and surprisingly, Irish and Scottish folk tunes. It was a fantastic session, and with Shunsuke playing bamboo flutes as well as the shamisen, it was a really special occasion.

When the earthquake hit, concerned, we got in touch with Shunsuke, as Etsuro and his family are from Miyagi prefecture, the area most affected by the tsunami. Happily we received this reply:
'Etsuro's place is in Miyagi Prefecture. where the earthquake and tsunami hit hard. Fortunately, he and all his family are all safe. Due to no electricity and no tap water, he is having a hard time though. I can only speak to Etsuro when he gives me a phone call from a public telephone. He must be very much encouraged by the message from our new friends in U.K.'

We're hoping that Shunsuke and Etsuro will be back in the UK over the summer, but for now you can hear the session with Shunsuke and Etsuro on World on 3 this Friday evening with Mary Ann Kennedy,. As the situation in Japan continues to develop, you can follow the latest news at BBC News online.

Peter Meanwell is a senior producer at BBC Radio 3 - BBC - Radio 3


“DUO” Etsuro Ono x Shunsuke Kimura 2009 MLCD-001 Medium Label



The virtuoso players Kimura and Ono are powerful innovators of the Tsugaru-Shamisen and Fue. They have taken this dynamic semi-improvised style from northern Japan in new contemporary directions, presenting both traditional pieces and new material which fuses original folk sound with the soul and blues rhythms of the West. Formed in 2009, the duo became quickly popular and has performed in Korea, Turkey, and RFWF in Borneo. In March 2011 they performed as part of Hibiki festival at Kings Place, London, and RASA and Utrecht ( just before Ono’s town in north Japan was is hit by earthquake). In July they are invited to WOMAD and FMM festival in Portugal.