Category Archives: Taiko

Dilemma of Digital Instruments

In my DIY Taiko project, I design and build practice drum with construction material. The purpose is to provide affordable, effective and portable alternatives for taiko learning. I would like to help people to improve their skills, hence the appreciation of the art. Kenny Endo often quotes his teacher’s saying, “practice hard, in order to enjoy”. The body need so much time and work to reach a proper form to strike a pleasurable sound, as taiko is capable of many colors, the limit is on the player.

Taiko are big and difficult to transport. From that perspective, a digital version of a taiko is perfect. However, I don’t see how people can learn taiko with it. How could people learn if the drum doesn’t sound bad? How would people learn to feel the vibration of the drum head? A digital taiko would be great for some aspect, but it shouldn’t replace real taiko for performance; just like the grand piano! From a composer’s point of view, amplified or digital instruments are instruments of their own, and therefore should be exploit in their own way.

I don’t agree that digital taiko can replace real drum for ensemble performance. It could be used in an ensemble where real taiko is not the main instrument, perhaps in band?

Passion is nice but…

Ah, after reading the book “Taiko Boom”, one learns that the 1958 Japanese movie “The Ricksaw Man” had tremendous influence on early development of ensemble taiko. The ricksaw man was low but strong, he could play taiko for “real” while no one else could. It felt empowering to think that manual labor could do great, for example, taiko playing. Hmm… is it really that great in reality?

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Chung Wan Choi