Percussion instruments are generally regarded as the earliest musical instrument in humanity, just like Taiko which has been existed and integral in Japanese culture since ancient times. Taiko drums also known as “wadaiko”, use a specific type of drum from hollowing a tree and covered with cow skin by stretching it with ropes. Its popularity is growing around the world in recent years due to the spectacular performance of the Taiko groups and has been performed in rituals, festivals, and local events.
The AYF team received an invitation from Pasona Group’s Taiko team to practice taiko on the 27th of June 2022. The instructor, Ueda Shuichiro, has abundant experience in performing Taiko and teaching Taiko in many locations worldwide. We got an incredible opportunity to listen to his talk about the history of Taiko, the traditional & modern values of Taiko, and the charm of the traditional musical instrument.
We also had the chance to practice and learn how to play the Taiko which may seem easy but takes a lot of practice and understanding of rhythm and forms. Forms or known as “kata”, is how you move and position while you hit the drums.
Even hitting the drums requires the appropriate posture as it is important to keep our arms straight and move them straight up and down. Understanding the appropriate posture while practicing the movements is key to being able to make a powerful and impactful sound that will resonate with the audience.
With a 2000-year-old history, Taiko was performed in a Japanese court, theater, religious rituals, and music festivals. However, Taiko was just one instrument of many that created an ensemble of a performance. Due to its powerful sound, taiko was an essential part of Japanese theatres such as Kabuki and Noh as a method to produce a specific tension and rhythm in performances.
In the mid-20th century, Kumi-Daiko (taiko ensemble that consists of different types of taiko) evolved and became more popular. More people realized the stunning depth of Taiko, being able to produce different sounds and styles from just a single drum. The fact that there were many drums, producing different types of sound, combined with all the movements, formed an outstanding performance.
In the modern era, Taiko is still an important part of the Japanese culture as it is very common to see taiko ensembles all over Japan that represent schools, companies, and local areas, and many of them have contributed to the increase of the musical instrument’s recognition worldwide.