While continuously engaged in the field of traditional Japanese music, female-school gidayu shamisen player Yumiko Tanaka has since the 1990s been carrying out multifaceted musical activities including contemporary classical music, improvisation (in 1996-97 she was a member of Otomo Yoshihide’s band Ground-Zero), experimental music, and theater performance/composition, performing and exchanging ideas with many musicians from Japan and other countries.
While Tanaka is regarded as one of the musicians representative of the improvised/experimental music scene in Japan, thus far she has only two solo releases: the CD Tayutauta (Improvised Music from Japan, 2004) and the DVD Music Performance (Meenna, 2017). In 2023, 19 years after its original release, her only solo CD–the widely acclaimed Tayutauta–has been remastered and reissued with greatly improved sound quality and a new design.
Tayutauta contains ten completely improvised tracks in which Tanaka uses the gidayu shamisen but departs boldly from the usual methods of playing the instrument. Incorporating a variety of experimental techniques including plucking, bowing and use of “prepared” objects, these performances are calm and sedate, but suffused throughout with a feeling of cohesion backed by Tanaka’s distinctive musical artistry. This is improvised music of rare quality.