Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Beat of Japanese Taiko Drums

The month of July has been declared as the Philippines-Japan Friendship Month and different cultural performances in Filipino and Japanese have been held to commemorate this event. I would like to make a tribute too to the Japanese culture with this blog entry.

Taiko refers to a wide drum in Japanese. However, outside Japan, the word is used to refer to any of the various Japanese drums. This is a stick percussion instrument that has been used in Japanese music traditions.

In the year 2005, I particpated in as a representative of the Philippines to the 21st Century Youth Leaders Invitation Program in Japan, we were treated with a taiko drum performance in the prefecture of Fukushima where we were welcomed with a sumptuous dinner. It was a great audio sensation. The performers were so energetic to beat the drums with their bachi or sticks.

In the early history of taiko, it was used in martial arts and court style music called Gagaku which can be heard in castles and shrines. This was also used during battles where marching pace is determined with the sound of the taiko drum and to motivate the troops.

The modern taiko was established in 1951 organized by the 84 year old Grandmaster of modern taiko Daihachi Oguchi, who just passed away last June 27 for he was hit by a car while crossing a street in Japan. His very first actual Taiko ensemble was referred to as kumidaiko since he put together different sizes, shapes and pitches of taiko as played by several performers.

In this age of technology you can hear the taiko drum music being played in the Sony Playstation 2. This is such an incredible preservation of the music tradition. Passing from the ancient time to the modern age.

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