Brother Drum

I cast my net into the sea, will you haul it in alongside me?

Brother Shogo
Brother Oliver copy
Brother Damian
Brother Hibiki
Brother George

Brother Jonathan

Brother Drum

Brother Drum is a celebration of reaching out and making friends across cultural, geographic and political boundaries. Composed by Jonathan Kirby in 1998, it was first performed at San Jose Repertory Theatre in California in a concert featuring San Jose Taiko and British folk-rock group PressGang. Brother Drum was performed again the following year in a short UK tour, featuring members of PressGang, with British taiko players and Marco Lienhard, from TaikoZa in New York, USA. The song was re-recorded in 2016, and performed as the finale of the headline concert at 12th UK Taiko Festival in 2017.

After meeting at the 1st European Taiko Conference, February 2016, Oliver Kirby and former Kodo member Shogo Yoshii performed Brother Drum as part of a concert in London. Finding that the song had stood the test of time and was as relevant in 2016 as it had been in 1998, Jonathan Kirby arranged a new recording of the song, reuniting with former PressGang members Damian Clarke and George Whitfield who had first played it 18 years beforehand. They were joined by Oliver Kirby and Shogo Yoshii, as well as shamisen maestro Hibiki Ichikawa. The recording was made in late December 2016. A video of the group performing the song in the studio can be seen by clicking here.


Brother Drum features a unique array of instruments: taiko drums and Japanese flutes are often heard together, but not so often when accompanied by accordion. The hurdy-gurdy, whose drone strings make it sound a little bit like bagpipes, is an instrument often seen in folk groups in Western Europe, as is the hammer dulcimer, another folk instrument that crosses borders. This version of Brother Drum also includes shamisen, played by Hibiki Ichikawa (who played on the soundtrack of the 2016 film “Kubo and the two strings”), but also the kokyu, played by Shogo Yoshii. The kokyu is a bowed version of the shamisen, lending its haunting sound to the final verse of Brother Drum. We all feel that this mixture of instruments and musicians embodies the message of the song. A short documentary about the making of the song can be seen here:
“Amazing encounter between sounds and melodies. No borders for music, no borders for humanity!”      Jana Projects, Sardinia.


Brother Drum in the Northcott Theatre

The song Brother Drum was performed as the finale of the main concert in the Exeter Northcott at the 12th UK Taiko Festival in July 2017. The audience of some 500 people had not expected to have the opportunity to sing, but did!



Brother Drum (live at 12th UK Taiko Festival)

The song Brother Drum having been performed as the finale of the main concert in the Exeter Northcott, the following day, in the intimate setting of the Exeter Phoenix, a full “Brother Drum” concert was played. The whole concert featured taiko mixed with Japanese and Western European instruments such as the hurdy-gurdy, hammer dulcimer, accordion, shamisen, kokyu flutes and whistles. This live performance of Brother Drum is taken from that concert – with a wonderfully enthusiastic audience.



Brother Drum – available on the 2024 album taiko without borders