Brother Drum

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

Brother Drum – CD single, also available as download. Watch the video on YouTube.

download (1)

Available at Amazon


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 tour in southern UK, featuring members of PressGang, with British taiko players and Marco Lienhard, from TaikoZa in New York, USA. A short documentary about the making of the song can be seen by clicking here.

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 when written, if not even more so, 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 Shogo
Brother Oliver copy
Brother Damian
Brother Hibiki
Brother George

Brother Jonathan

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, from the British Isles to South-East Asia. At this point, we’ve covered all the instruments that were used in the 1998 version of Brother Drum.

Brother Drum Group Photo

The latest version of Brother Drum includes not only shamisen, played by Hibiki Ichikawa, who played shamisen on the soundtrack of the 2016 film “Kubo and the two strings”, but also the kokyu, played by Shogo Yoshii. The kokyu is like a bowed version of the shamisen, lending its hauntingly beautiful sound to the final verse of Brother Drum, and beyond. We all feel that this mixture of instruments and musicians embodies the message of the song.