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Rumbling of the gods:Taiko

August 23, 2010

There is something mesmerising about watching a person play the drums. Be it the Beatles Ringo Starr or Genesis Phil Collins, the amount of energy created by a single instrument can wake up quiet audiences and send rowdy ones over the top.

Add a group of fit looking figures dressed in specially designed outfits including arm wrists, head bands, ninja style footwear (and sometimes aprons), and drumming takes on a different dimension. The only vocals heard in these performances are the commands given by the lead or a group cry. There is no singing or dancing in this type of performance. It is the drum and only the drum, it is Taiko.

by Cate

The Japanese word Taiko can be translated as “fat drum”, which comes in varies shapes and sizes. Originally made from ancient tree trunks the modern style Taiko is made from thin (wine) barrels with quality cowhide laced or tacked around the top. Drums big enough to house a small car carry a deep throaty roll while the smaller drums hold a similar sound to a bongo. Historically the sound made frome the drum were associated with the rumbling of the gods and were introduced into religious ceremonies and activities as a result.

by Cate

Whatever the size, these drums are played with a pair of chunky wooden sticks and require hours of practice at a specialised Dojo (school) hence the players great looking arms and upper bodies!

by Cate

At the Morikami Gardens Bon festival, the local Taiko group put on an intense performance with drums that rolled and pounded, sticks that clacked in unison and fancy footwork that resembled a slow dance. There is something about watching drummers do their thing.

Not everything was being performed on stage, however. A faint sound coming from the back of the tent could be heard on several occasions during the group’s performance. Out of sync with the group, the pounding would stop short, only to start again when least expected. The drum being played didn’t resemble the roll of thunder or any form of music, more like a clunk from a novice player. Yes he may have been young in years but he was definitely mature in heart. Meet up coming Taiko drummer, Sky.

by Cate

At fifteen months young master Sky had the ability to figure out the correlation between hitting something hard and making sound. A potential scholar in years to come, Sky also had a great pair biceps.

by Cate

The sounds ofΒ  the Taiko can be capitvating but watching a performance — well crafted — is even more so. One of the popular groups on the international circuit is Yamato. You can catch a glimpse of their work below.

If you’re curious the price of a drum depends on the size and materials, but you can expect to pay anything between $2000 – $15,000 a piece.

Caffeinated Traveller

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15 Comments
  1. travelforaircraft permalink
    August 23, 2010 5:37 pm

    Drumming is primal and fundamental … thanks for this post. I’m ranking taiko up there with Hawaiian drums, jungle drums and Rock n’ Roll drums πŸ™‚

    • August 25, 2010 10:08 am

      I really like Samoan drums which I guess are similar to other Pacific Island cultures — Tahitian and Hawaiian. A little odd how these have drums but New Zealand Maori don’t. Something for me to look into. Thanks Joe πŸ™‚

  2. August 23, 2010 7:55 pm

    I like it! Well described, and I love the photos (as always)!

    • August 25, 2010 10:06 am

      A big THANKS goes out to you Heather πŸ™‚

  3. August 24, 2010 4:15 am

    I’ve seen taiko performers at a local university of all places! Not as much fun as seeing them in Japan but just as mesmerising. I like the close ups in the photos!

    • August 25, 2010 10:06 am

      You got me thinking now, I should check out what’s on offer at the local universities around Palm Beach Counties. Bound to strike something to blog about.

  4. August 24, 2010 2:07 pm

    Very nice photos Cate πŸ™‚ I like it!

    • August 25, 2010 10:04 am

      Well thank your for the compliment πŸ™‚

    • August 25, 2010 10:04 am

      Thank you for the compliment!

  5. August 25, 2010 11:49 am

    The intro made me think of modern dance class in high school when a bongo drummer played during class. There really is something special about the sound of drums! Have you ever played?

    • August 26, 2010 11:13 am

      No, I did try to make a sound with my palm once, pretty pathetic sound actually. You do needa really good ear I think.

  6. August 26, 2010 2:15 pm

    What cute talented girl. Thanks for sharing the drum story. πŸ™‚

  7. Catherine permalink
    August 26, 2010 9:05 pm

    we have Japanese drumming roups who play at our school and they are spectacular – like you i love watching and hearing them – beautiful photos…

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