Most obon dance and music spring from the land and the work of the people in the village where it is performed. Odaiko Sonora has created an obon dance, drum rhythm, chant and yokobue (flute) melody, which we perform along the Procession route. We invite you to learn the dance and chant, and join the Odaiko Sonora crew at this year’s Procession.
We call Odaiko Sonora’s obon song “Tucson Ondo.” Like most obon dances, the dance we created for Tucson describes where we live and what we do in our village. Also typical, movements usually happen twice, once to each side.
The movements, in order, describe:
BIG MOUNTAINS, that bound Tucson to the north and east
LITTLE MOUNTAINS, that lie to Tucson’s south and west
SUN, earning us the nickname “The Baked Apple”
WIND, that kicks up and brings…
RAIN, that all life depends on here in the desert
HULA HOEING the weeds that have grown from the rain
CLEANING UP, which we all do after work, right?!
FEELING PROUD that the work is done
To honor the 25th anniversary of the All Souls Procession in 2014, Odaiko Sonora commissioned this chant by Japanese-Canadian artist Aki Takahashi.
Notes: In the recording you hear a base vocal repeating “hey-yas-sa.” At the Procession, we may or may not have that vocal part. Regardless, a drum will provide the base beat. For those with perfect pitch 😉 this recording begins with “YA” on C. We will start a half step lower, on B, to make it a bit easier to sing. Lastly, for those who take Japanese pronunciation very seriously, and as you’ll note from the recording, the “YA” is actually a slide from ee (as in “see”) to yah, so “eeYah.” If you can do it that way, awesome!