CulturallyOurs Japanese Taiko Drumming Music Tradition

Culture Of Taiko Japanese Drum Music

CulturallyOurs Japanese Taiko Drumming Music Tradition
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Today we head out to Japan to learn about Taiko, which is the ancient Japanese form of percussion music using large drums that are played in an intense, rhythmic format. Having heard a local Taiko group perform a few years ago, I can tell you, this music is loud, intense and unlike any I have ever heard. It has a mesmerizing quality about it and you almost feel like you are dancing in a fast-paced circle really becoming one with the sound from these drums.

In Japanese, taiko literally means ‘drum’ though the term is also used to refer to the art of Japanese drumming, known as kumi-daiko.CulturallyOurs Japanese Taiko Drumming Music TraditionTaiko has been a part of the Japanese culture for centuries. In fact, Taiko has an almost mythological origin in Japanese folklore. One of the oldest books in Japanese classical history, the Nihon Shoki, describes the origins of Taiko. The myth tells the story of Amaterasu, who had sealed herself inside a cave in anger and was beckoned out by an elder goddess Ame-no-Uzume when others had failed. Ame-no-Uzume accomplished this by emptying out a barrel of sake and dancing on top of it. Historians regard her performance as the mythological creation of Taiko music.

There are historical records that suggests that taiko were introduced to Japan through cultural influences from countries such as Korea and China as early as the 6th century CE. Some taiko are even similar to instruments originating from India. As percussion instruments are generally the most primitive instrument in any society, the taiko existed and was used in the ancient Japan over 2000 years ago. According to some archeological and anthropological researches, ancient people in the Jyomon era used drums as a communication tool or an instrument for religious rituals.CulturallyOurs Japanese Taiko Drumming Music TraditionThis really is a fascinating form of music and I invite you to come explore Japanese taiko drumming music on this episode of CulturallyOurs.

Here is a snippet of a Taiko ensemble performance. Listen to the rhythmic drumming and choreographed moves by the drummers.

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  1. Wendy Lee says:

    I will be in Japan in two months and am really looking forward to seeing a taiko performance. These giant drums have always fascinated me.