STI 2016 Interview: Kapono Ciotti

Kapono bw
Kapono Ciotti started his musical career at two years old when he first began drum lessons with Harold Chang. In high school he began serious studies of world percussion with professional percussionist Michel Seguin.

Interviewer: Kirstin Pauka (TCP Performing Ensemble member)

1. Please tell us how you got interested in the West African percussion traditions.
I first became interested in percussion at the age of 2. After six months of lessons at Harry’s Music, I took a 15 year break, and rediscovered drumming at the age of 17, inspired by Shango and Michael Wall who both facilitated persuccion events at Punahou.

From there I began studying with Michel Seguin, who connected me to the roots of percussion in Senegal. And the rest, as they say, is history!

2. What do you see as the essential qualities of a good percussionist/drummer?
They call it “degg-degg” in Senegal, meaning, a good ear to hear rhythm. West African rhythm all start with being able to hear how a part fits into the bigger musical aesthetic. Besides that, it is practice, practice, and practice.  


3. What sustains your continued love of this type of music?
Playing and making people move and be happy is enough to keep me going. Playing music makes me happy… to create a performance that lives for just the instance, something so temporary yet so impactful is amazingly powerful.


4. What will participants in your STI workshop gain from the experience?

Participants will learn ancient rhythms that expose a West African aesthetic. This aesthetic is a sensibility, a way or hearing and experiencing rhythm that is different from other traditions. The ancient roots and powerful rhythmic elements developed in West Africa will add to any percussionists tool kit.