Facts about the Taiko

 

The taiko is a large, drum-like percussion instrument that is thought to have originated in Korean and Chinese culture and was introduced to Japan in the sixth century CE. Taiko have been used for a variety of purposes throughout history, including military, theatrical, religious, festival, concert, and communication. The Japanese use the term 'taiko' to refer to any type of drum, but those outside of Japan use it to refer specifically to Japanese drums. Taiko drums typically have a shell with heads on both sides, and the cavity is sealed to provide resonation. Some taiko are tunable, while others are not.


Taiko is also known as wadaiko, and when an ensemble plays taiko, it is known as kumi-daiko.


Building a taiko can take several years, depending on the craftsman's process and the materials used.


When taiko were used in warfare, specific drum calls were used to communicate specific orders. The troops would know whether to advance or retreat based on the sets and beats.


Taiko are widely used in Japanese theater to create dramatic tension, rhythmic patterns, and to set the tone for the performance.


Daihachi Oguchi, a trained jazz musician, invented kumi-daiko, or taiko ensemble playing, in 1951.


To make a taiko, the craftsman must first create and shape the drum's body. He or she must then prepare the drum skin and tune it to the drum's head.


Traditional taiko were made from dried zelkova tree trunks. It took several years to properly dry the wood so that it did not split.


Some drum heads are air dried, which can take several years, while others are dried faster in smoke inside large warehouses.


Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten, a Tokyo-based company, has been producing taiko exclusively for the Emperor of Japan since the 1860s.


For more than 400 years, one company, Asano Taiko Corporation, has been producing taiko. It is a family-owned business.


Umetsu Daiko has been producing taiko in Hakata since 1821.


The term 'kata' refers to the movement and posture used when playing taiko. Kata is the primary factor used to differentiate quality in taiko performance. Musicians frequently practice in rooms with mirrors so that they can assess their posture and movement.


Clothing, how one grips the sticks, technical rhythm, and clothing worn are also used to judge taiko performance.


Taiko players must wear appropriate clothing. A thin coat and a headband are worn by many groups. Taiko styles vary depending on who is playing it and under what conditions.


Taiko groups began to appear outside of Japan in the late 1900s, including Australia, Brazil, the United States, Canada, and others.


When taiko is performed in a group, vocalists and other musicians playing woodwind and/or string instruments frequently accompany the taiko players.


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