Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Japanese Taiko

The Hello Japan! mini-challenges
hosted by In Spring It Is The Dawn

January's Task
This month's task is to listen to Japanese music.
What kind, and how much is completely up to you.


Taiko means "drum" in Japanese (etymologically "great" or "wide drum").
Outside Japan, the word is often used to refer to any of the various Japanese drums
('wa-daiko', "Japanese drum", in Japanese) and
to the relatively recent art-form of ensemble taiko drumming
(sometimes called more specifically, "kumi-daiko".


Japanese Taiko


I was first exposed to a Taiko drum during a Hiroshima concert back in the 90s. I was in awe to see and hear such a large Japanese instrument - live. The booming booms sent shivers. You can say it was love at first sound.

Then in the 00s we attended the annual Black Ships Festival in Newport, Rhode Island. At this event we attended the festival of drums which presented performances from several U.S. Taiko ensemble groups. This event is usually held in July. Go if you can!

The Black Ships Festival offers a variety of events that
emphasize both Japanese art and culture.
Events include Origami, Martial Arts, and a Japanese Tea Ceremony.
A highlight will be the Annual Festival of Drums.


San Francisco Taiko Dojo
Hachidan Solos from International Taiko Festival, 2002

I'm proud to say that my city of San Francisco has its own group, The San Francisco Taiko Dojo. I saw them for the first time at the Black Ships Festival mentioned above. With this ensemble group you will notice the sound of another percussion instrument along with the various sized taiko drums. It's metal pipes.

interesting tidbits from their site:

The prize possession of Taiko Dojo is the one ton O-Daiko drum, which stands over twelve feet high. It is the largest drum in this hemisphere and valued at $500,000.

Grand Master Tanaka and San Francisco Taiko Dojo has been featured in four major motion picture movies—Phillip Kaufman’s The Right Stuff, and Rising Sun starring Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes, George Lucas’ Return of the Jedi, and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now.


Battlestar Galactica: Prelude to War

One of my favorite tv series (2004), Battlestar Galactica, featured taiko drums in its soundtrack which was composed by Bear McCreary. I especially love the taiko drums solos in this piece. It was quite often played before commercial breaks --> located at the 2:54 mark and at 3:47. Must give this a listen!

btw: Battlestar Galactica tv spin-off, Caprica started last Friday on the SyFy channel


*source image taiko drums
*part of my Hello! Japan mini-challenges
*not part of Ms V's Vampire Week, but i had to post this before the end of January ;-D
*fyi: according to wikipedia: Japan has no native legends about vampires. Japanese vampires made their first appearances in the Cinema of Japan during the late 1950s.
*don't forget to enter the Vampire Haiku giveaway offer this week

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Images from: Lovelytocu