Taiko and TaikoFit®

Depending on your culture, the beating of a drum can evoke powerful memories: a new harvest season, the joys of music class, or the days of playing in a live band. For some, beating a drum is a convenient, fun, and exhilarating way to get fit. For thousands of years the beating of a large drum, called taiko, has been used for many spiritual practices throughout Japan, China, and Korea. Made from wood, taiko were used to warn villagers about an upcoming storm, to send messages to soldiers on the battlefield, and as a ceremonial method of beckoning a plentiful harvest season. The loud and thundering bang of the mallet hitting the
drum had the power to awaken people physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Due to the spiritual connection to taiko, Japanese culture insisted the beating of drums be performed only by holy men.
In the early 1950s taiko evolved from the ceremonial rituals of the past to include a rhythm and group ensemble with many drums of various sizes used in orchestrated performances.

Today taiko performances occur in festivals and events at both private and public places. Audiences around the world are enthralled by the majestic rhythm that is delivered by combining the powerful bangs of a drum with movement, theatre, diverse drumming styles, and martial arts.
Watching taiko experts in action can seem overwhelming, but the simplicity of movement along with the obvious health and fitness benefits has evolved taiko beyond the performing arts to the world of fitness.
Here is one of my favorite links to an interactive Taiko page where you can play any kind of piece of music you want yourself just by scrolling your mouse over the instruments. It's a lot of fun and you get to hear the different types of instruments involved with Taiko music.

The word "daiko," a variant of "taiko," which means "drum," is used as the latter part of a compound word that designate a particular type of drum, such as a "shime-daiko" or "o-daiko."
Byou-daiko is the name for a major category of drums that are carved from a single log. "Byou" means "tacks." As the name implies, their drumheads are tacked to their rims. Thus, they produce one fixed tone, unlike the other main category of drums, the shime-daiko, which can be tuned. Among the byou-daiko category of drums is the nagado-daiko family (which contain the most commonly known taiko), the ko-daiko, shaku-daiko, and the o-daiko.
Chu-daiko are medium-sized members of the Nagado-daiko family of drums, with the diameter of their drumheads ranging in size from roughly 1.6 shaku to 2.8 shaku (approximately 19" to 33.5" or 48.5 cm to 85 cm).
Daibyoshi are short-bodied drums of the oke-daiko style. Their relatively high-pitched voice was used widely in Kabuki Theater.
Gaku-daiko is an ornately decorated version of the hira-daiko. It was originally used in ancient Gagaku Theater, from which it derives its name. Suspended in a frame, the instrument is played vertically while the musician is seated.
Hira-daiko is a term used to describe a type of drum that is wider than it is long, the literal meaning of "hira" being stout or flat. They are of the byou-daiko category of taiko in that they are carved from a single piece of wood and have drumheads that are tacked to their rims. Like the drums of the more elongated nagado-daiko family, their sizes vary greatly, some being as large as the great o-daiko. These larger sized hira-daiko are often used by modern taiko groups in place of an o-daiko.
Ko-daiko are the smaller members of the Nagado-daiko family of drums, with the diameter of their drumheads ranging from one shaku to one-and-one-half shaku (a shaku measures about one foot or 30 cm).
Kotsuzumi are small, hand-held drums of the tsuzumi family. Kotsuzumi have two drumheads at either end of its hourglass-shaped body. These drumheads are made of calfskin stitched to supporting loops. The loops are held in place over each of the drum's openings by a suspension cord laced around the drum's body. The instrument's pitch can vary during a performance by the player tensing a second cord, which is wrapped around the first cord and the drum's body.
Kotsuzumi are customarily made of fine cherry wood, decorated with gild designs. This drum, as with similar drums in the tsuzumi family, comes from traditional Japanese Theater and only occasionally is used in modern taiko.

Nagado-daiko, which means "elongated drum," is perhaps the most popular type of taiko used by modern groups. Their bodies have a barrel-shaped Nagado-daiko, which means "elongated drum," is perhaps the most popular type of taiko used by modern groups. Their bodies have a barrel-shaped appearance, with a maximum diameter roughly equivalent to their head-to-head length.
Their drumheads are made of cowhide and set on either side of the midsection of their bodies are handles composed of a ring and plate, which are called "Kanagu." A marvelously versatile instrument, nagado-daiko can be positioned and played a number of ways on a variety of stands or "dai," and more than one musician can play on them simultaneously. Their distinctively deep and resonant voice is familiar to everyone who loves taiko music.
The nagado-daiko, like all members of the "byou-daiko" to which it belongs, is carved from a single piece of wood. It comes in a wide range of sizes, from one shaku (about one foot or 30 cm) to over six shaku (about six feet or 180 cm.) There are three main types of nagado drums, all designated by their relative sizes: the small ko-daiko, the medium sized chu-daiko, and the giant o-daiko.

O-daiko are the largest members of the nagado-daiko family of drums. The "O" syllable in Japanese signifies exactly what the shape of its character in the Roman alphabet visually suggests, something "big" or "fat."
And these drums are among the biggest and fattest in the world, with their drumhead's diameters ranging from about three shaku to over six shaku (approximately between three to over six feet or 88 cm to over 180 cm). Their great size robs them of much of the versatility that other nagado-daiko possess and they are usually played horizontally. Some are so large that they are not often moved, but have an established place of residence in a temple or shrine.
Because an o-daiko is made from a single tree trunk, the trees from which they come can be hundreds of years old and the largest of them come from trees over a thousand years old. Understandably, they are also the most expensive of taiko drums with prices that can reach into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Today, the term "o-daiko" sometimes is applied broadly to any taiko of mammoth size, such as the largest of the okedo-daiko.
Okedo-daiko is a term for all shime-daiko that are made with stave construction as opposed to being carved out of a single block of wood. As with all shime style drums, the okedo-daiko can be tuned. (Please see "Shime-daiko" below) Their drumheads are usually stitched over metal hoops and laced to the drum's body with tension cords, by which the tone of the drum is adjusted.
There are many types of okedo-daiko but generally, these drums are more elongated than those of the nagado-daiko family (although okedo-daiko with short bodies are becoming increasingly popular). Among the long-bodied okedo-daiko are ojime, nambu-yoo, and nebuta drums (which are usually placed on a stand and played horizontally). Among the short-bodied okedo-daiko are daibyoshi, nenbutsu, tsuchibyoshi, and the eitetsu-gata drums.
The terms okedo-daiko and oke-daiko are interchangeable and sometimes are used to simply describe drums of stave construction that are not necessarily of the shime-daiko family. This term often is used to designate all drums that resemble the shape and construction of traditional Japanese barrels, whether the drumheads are attached by cords or tacked to the drum's body. (Please see "Barrel Drums" below)
Paranku are small, thin, hand-held drums. They have one drumhead and greatly resemble tambourines.

Shime-daiko is a major category of drums that have their drumheads pulled taut over a hoop by a lace of tension cords. The word "shime" comes from the verb "shimeru", meaning to bind or make tight. Adjustments to their tone are made by pulling the cords. Shime-daiko are drums that can be tuned, as opposed to drums in the Byou-daiko category that have a fixed drumhead and therefore a fixed tone.
Tsukeshime-daiko constitute a large variety of the shime-daiko. They are slung from the neck and shoulders, allowing the performer to dance while playing.
Tsuzumi are all the various hourglass-shaped drums. Among the many drums of the tsuzumi family are the ikko and its larger brother the sanko, which come from traditional Japanese theater. Both are elaborately decorated, with two drumheads at either end that are supported and tuned by tension cords. The kotsuzumi are also a tsuzumi.
Barrel Drums
Although making drums from empty barrels is a very old practice (a practice even found in ancient myth, see Taiko: Myth and History), it has become particularly popular today. Because of the expense of the fine woods required to build traditional taiko and the highly skilled craftsmanship involved in producing these exquisite instruments, many of today's taiko artists have turned to making drums from barrels as well as other cylindrical objects. This practice especially is widespread in North America where the art of taiko is becoming very popular.

These staved drums can be divided into two categories: oke and taru.
Oke describes the conventional Japanese barrel drums. These drums are constructed of narrow staves and have a straight cylindrical shape. They look like the traditional containers for miso soup stock.
Taru describes wooden barrel drums with a bulging, tapered body, constructed of wide staves. The word refers to the wine and whiskey barrels from which many American taiko are made.
The Woods Used
Modern taiko is not a purely musical form but also is a performance art -- it is as much theater as it is music. As such, the appearance of the performers (with their costumes and the grace of their movements) is as important as the sounds they create.
Not least in the total aesthetic experience of taiko is the visual beauty of the instruments. Therefore, the greatest care and skill is exercised in choosing the woods used in the making of the drums. Master craftsmen look as much for the beauty of a grain pattern as for a wood's strength, hardness, and the tone it might produce.
Even the lacquer used to finish the drums has a long history. Urushi, taiko's traditional lacquer is tapped from trees related to poison oak, and when wet can cause serious skin damage. It can be tinted in a wide range of hues and tones, from clear to opaque, and its application requires a great deal of skill.
The most sought-after material for making taiko is keyaki, the wood that comes from the zelkovia tree (a relative of the elm that is native to mountainous areas of Japan). The fame of this wood is in great part responsible for the decline of many of the forested areas from which it comes. Due to its great expense and attempts to conserve natural resources, alternative woods and some unorthodox construction techniques are now employed by taiko makers.
"Meari," a word meaning "with grain," is a term for any wood used to make taiko that is not keyaki. Among the meari woods are Bubinga from Africa, Toboku from Cameroon, Horse Chestnut, and Champhor.
To use the more available woods that have qualities close to those used in traditional taiko making but come from trees that do not produce trunks big enough to make a single drum, manufacturers have turned to stave construction and lamination.
Although most taiko made today is still carved from one piece of wood, some manufacturers now are producing taiko bodies made of synthetic material. Terms such as "eco-taiko" and "hi-tech taiko" are used to describe the modern taiko manufacturers' efforts to make instruments using unorthodox techniques that are ecologically sound and economically feasible, yet deliver a sound similar to drums produced by traditional methods.
While its roots run deep into tradition, taiko manufacturing is still an evolving and innovational process. In that respect, it is very much like the art of taiko music.
Other Instruments Used in Taiko
Biwa. A three-stringed lute with four frets and a distinctive rounded back. It is played with a large pick or "bachi."
Hyooshigi: Wooden clappers.
Ita-sasara: A rattle constructed of several wooden slats anchored to the instrument’s main shaft by cords. When repeatedly flicked by its two handles, the slats strike each other making a distinctive rasping sound.
Kagura suzu: A hand-held bell tree with three tiers of pellet bells.

Kane: A gong used to keep musical beat. Either hand-held or hung by a cord, it is struck with a mallet.
Koto:A stringed instrument resembling the zither. It usually has thirteen strings.
Shakuhachi:This traditional bamboo flute is often used by the Shumei Taiko Ensemble during performances, and the refined sonic balance between drums and flutes is a signature of the Ensemble's performance style. Shakuhachi come in a variety of sizes and have four holes at their front and one at their back. Their evocative sound is delicately nuanced and breathy.
Shamisen:One of a number of Japanese stringed instruments that resembles the banjo. It has three strings and is played with a pick or "Bachi."
Yotsutake: Bamboo clappers.

 Remo Katsugi Okedaiko, is lightweight and features the Skyndeep Natural drumheads

These phonetic words are used to express both the sound and emphasis of the beats, as well as the time value of the beats. As a result, the notation is not exact compared to the western method of music notation. There are 4 columns in the chart: the first shows the taiko player's sound, the next the shimedaiko player's, then the atarigane & "canon" sounds, and finally the meaning and value of the sound.
Taiko Shimedaiko Atarigane, Canon Meaning & Musical Value
Don (Kon) Ten Chan A single loud beat to the center (hara) of the drum. The left hand on a taiko is sometimes called "kon." This could be considered the equivalent of a quarter note; but could also be a half note, etc..
Do (Ko, Ro) Te (Ke, Re) Chi (Ki) A single firm beat to the hara, but with a value 1/2 that of "don" (the left is sometimes called "ko" or "ke"). This would be an eighth note, if "don" is a quarter note.
DoKo TeKe ChiKi 2 Fast beats of equal sound, and power. This would be the equivalent of 2 eighth notes.
DoRo TeRe ChiRi 2 Fast beats, but with a slight "rolling" feel to the beats. Played "right, left."
Tsu Tsu Tsu A note played softly. The value of the note is variable.
TsuKu TsuKu TsuKu 2 Fast beats played softly (the left hand is "ku").
Ka Ka n/a A beat played on the edge of the drum (fuchi), sometimes on the body (ko).
KaRa KaRa* n/a 2 Fast beats played on the fuchi, with a slight "rolling" feel to the beats. Played "right, left."
Su Su Su A rest. The value of the rest is variable, but usually it is one beat of the pulse of the meter.
Zu Zu n/a Another term for a soft beat, sometimes played with a slight "drag" to the beat.
*not normally played on a shimedaiko
These are what some of the different types of Taiko drums look like that Remo has produced:
Katsugi Okedaiko

Shime Daiko Rope Tension

Nagado Daiko, Siam Oak

Nagado Daiko

Okedo Daiko



Taiko fitness can be used to relieve stress and as a way of achieving a full-body workout.
Many fitness centres are setting their steps aside and replacing them with waist-high drums and mallets.
The great advantage of taiko fitness is that it can be performed by men and women of all ages and fitness levels. You can set your own pace and involve as much of your body as feels comfortable. Since taiko involves various movements, steps, and jumps as a performing art, these same movements have been implemented into the taiko aerobic fitness movement.
Actively performing the drumming workout for 30 to 60 minutes not only benefits the cardiovascular system but also trains the legs, arms, back, core, shoulders, and especially the triceps.
Taiko classes are generally performed while standing, so strong legs and glutes will help the flow of the workout. A strong core is also an asset, but the simple act of contracting the abdominal muscles with every hit of the drum will improve core strength in no time. Lying on the floor and hitting the drum while holding it between the knees is often used as a way of specifically targeting core muscles.
If you are new to exercise, the workout will feel much more effective once you develop the coordination of the movements. Consistency with the program is the key to improving coordination of movement and truly experiencing the flow of energy and strength as you pound the drums.
As with all exercise classes, the workout begins with a slow cadence to warm up the body;
intensity builds as time progresses. As the class winds down, stretching the tired muscles
helps relax the body.
At first thought, beating a drum may strike you as boring, loud, and irritating. However, when
performed in a group setting with the addition of movements such as squats, v-steps, and leg
lifts, beating a drum becomes rhythmical–and also social. With taiko, not only can you pound your frustrations away, but you can also improve your health while creating music with a group of like-minded drummers.

TaikoFit® is a fitness class that blends the elements of Japanese taiko drumming with traditional
aerobics. The concept is simple and a lot of fun: using big sticks (called 'bachii'), participants are
taken through an instructor-led workout where they are encouraged to bang away stress as they dance and step their way around their very own taiko drum.
What's really cool about TaikoFit®,  is its unique cultural flavor. The sticks, the music, and even the instructions are given in Japanese so that you feel as if you've been temporarily transported out of your mainstream gym and into a whole different world (or at least country). It's perfect for both beginners looking for something fun and non- threatening, and enthusiastic exercisers needing something new and interesting.
TaikoFit®: the drumming workout was founded in 2002 by Dr. Michelle Unrau, Executive Director of
Group Exercise for FitCity for Women Sports Clubs in Vancouver, Canada. She was inspired to create the workout after a friend in the taiko community introduced her to traditional Japanese taiko drumming. The combination of the drummer's physical movements, energy and the beat reminded her of her own fitness classes. She knew immediately that adapting the concept of taiko drumming to aerobics would be, pun
intended, a big hit. It's a beautiful marriage since Unrau, who is herself an avid taiko drummer
and supporter of the traditional taiko community, uses the TaikoFit® classes as an opportunity to educate about traditional taiko while helping people to get fit. Those who want to learn more about the traditional art are encouraged to attend local workshops and performances and get in touch with local groups.

These are what the more traditional historically correct drums look like:

Nagado Taiko長胴太鼓 Nagado DaikoNagado literally means “long body,” and indeed Nagado taiko’s bodies are longer in contrast to the diameter of the heads. For the body we use a single log of domestic Keyaki (zelkova) and Meari wood for their durability and the beauty of the grain. The craftsmen first hollow out the log roughly and then dry it for 3 to 5 years. When the body is dried enough, the craftsmen plane it to perfection and tack the leather on the drumheads.

Tsukeshime Taiko附締太鼓 Tsukeshime TaikoTsukeshime taiko is one of the most popular instruments among the variety of Taiko. The body is single, hollowed out log. And the drumheads (leather fixed on iron rings) have holes punched out along their rims for tightening ropes to lace through. Sandwiching the body with the heads and tighten the ropes and you have a Tsukeshime taiko ready for performance. It has 5 different kinds of heads depending on the thickness of the skin.

Okedo Daiko桶胴太鼓 Okedo DaikoThe body of Okedo daiko is traditional barrel called“Oke”.And the drumheads (leather fixed on iron rings) have holes punched out along their rims for tightening ropes to lace through. Unlike Nagado daiko, Okedo daiko is light and easy to tune. For these merits Okedo daiko have gained popularity among musicians in the past few decades.

Oshime Daiko大締太鼓 Ohjime DaikoOhjime taiko normally refers to Okeshime taiko from 60 cm to 150 cm in the sizes of diameter of drumheads.

Okejime Daiko締太鼓 Okejime DaikoNormally Okejime daiko is placed vertically to the ground. The use of Okejime daiko is quite flexible: you can make a variety of arrangements with Nagado taiko and other instruments to perform Kumidaiko ensemble.

Katsugi Daikoかつぎ太鼓 Katsugi DaikoThe heads of Katsugi okedo taiko are made with horsehide. Unlike most other Taiko that are placed on the stands, Katsugi okedo taiko is portable: the performer can carry it with a shoulder strap and freely move on the stage. Many artists are beginning to use them for more effective stage performances.

Hira Taiko平太鼓 Hira TaikoLike Nagado taiko, the drumheads are tacked onto the body, but the length of the body is considerably shorter in relation to the diameter of the heads. Hira taiko is commonly used with Hiratsuri Stand (hanging stand) at Buddhist temples, and for folk music and entertainment, the musicians play it on Three-legged Stand.

Uchiwa Taiko団扇太鼓 Uchiwa TaikoThe uniqueness of Uchiwa taiko lies in its shape: there is no drum body, the head is fixed on the iron ring and the handle is attached directly on the ring. A drum with such structure is quite a rarity in the world. Uchiwa taiko is originally used to accompany religious services in Nichiren Sect of Japanese Buddhism, but in recent years its potential for Taiko performances have been explored.
Shime DaikoShime Daiko has exactly the same structure as the Tsukeshime Taiko for festivals and Taiko ensembles. However, the materials and elaboration of each detail is greater for the Shime daiko for Noh and Kabuki. Also, the floral-patterned lacquer decoration is made around the rims of the heads, and beautiful gold lacquer work of various designs is made on the body.
Along with Taiko and gongs, Japanese flutes are essential tothe music.

Japanese FluteIn general, the tone of a flute is determined by the length and the diameter of it. The longest, and therefore the lowest pitch, is called Ippon-choushi (#1 pitch). The highest pitch is called Jyusanbon-choushi (#13 pitch). Musicians commonly use Roppon-choushi (#6 pitch) and Nanahon-chousi (#7 pitch) for most of the performances. We have a select variety of flute, please inquire us about the tone and kinds you are looking for. Amongst our Fue selection, we recommend the Miyamoto signature model for its distinguishing features.
Playing positions There are a number of different playing approaches each of which gives a different sound and requires different posture and 'attitude' from the drummer. Some of the positions are common amongst drums. O-Daiko This drum is positioned with the lowest part of the playing surface at chest height and is struck with oak bachi (sticks) that are approx. 2" in diameter and 18" or so in length. The physical exertion involved in swinging these huge sticks is immense however the stick has to match the drum to get the correct sound out of it. The drummer stands facing the drum with one leg bent at the knee (usually the left) and the other stretched out behind him. This gives the leverage to be able to hit the drum and maintain balance. The drum can be played by one person or by two, however one player will almost always be the lead player and the other has a supportive role. Chu-daiko : I have seen at least five positions for playing this drum
•Upright: The standard 'ensemble' playing position is similar to just having the drum standing upright on the floor, excepting that it is on a low flat stand 3-4" tall that angles it slightly toward the player and allows the bottom head to resonate freely. This position gives a slightly muted and more attack oriented sound to the drum. The player stands square-on behind the drum with knees bent to maintain balance as one would do in marital arts and is struck in a vertical plane. The sticks used are smaller versions of the o-daiko sticks, approx. 15" long however they taper from handle to tip from approx. 1" - 0.75" in diameter. This is the most common way of mounting and playing the Chu-daiko.
•Onbayashi (1 player) this is one of the two most ergonomically demanding positions for the player. the drum is angled to around 30 degrees with one end on a support on the floor and the other end is raised about 12". The player sits on the ground with his legs either side of the raised head of the drum and plays mid-crunch style for the duration of the song. The drum is almost totally free to resonate and delivers quality and fullness of tone that we normally associate with big drums. I have tried this style and it is a wonderfully responsive way of playing the drum but you need to work up to having the abdominal strength to play for more than a few minutes. The sticks used are brutal, resembling short baseball bats. This is the style best known for its use in the Kodo piece Yatai Bayashi.
•Miyake style (1-2 players). This is the other of the two most demanding playing styles. The drum is set absolutely horizontally about 9-12" off the ground and both sides can be played simultaneously. The players adopt a similar style to the O-Daiko but much lower and more side-on. The player stands left side (generally) on to the drum, left foot in line with and to the side of the drum's head. The left knee is bent so that the hips are at around knee level. The right leg is kept straight and extends away from the drum. When striking, the right stick moves horizontally insofar as is possible and the left stick swings from either under the right armpit or from over the right shoulder. This is a beautiful playing style to watch. The drum is completely free to resonate This is the style used in Miyake.
•Mid position (1-2 players) The drum is mounted similarly to the above position but is raised about 2ft off the ground. the playing method is similar to the above but it is much less physically demanding
•High Position (1-2 players) Played in exactly the same manner as the O-daiko and is used by many taiko groups who cannot yet afford to buy or make an O-Daiko
Oki-daiko: I have seen three playing styles for this type of drum
•Low position: mounted on a three legged stand, with the head about 2'6" off the floor, similar in height to the standard chu-daiko positioning. it is played similarly to the chu-daiko in ensemble pieces but has a lighter sound,
•Carried: The drum is light enough to be worn on a strap around the shoulder and is usually used in this manner when the drummers are required to dance or move around the stage. The right stick can be used on its own in the usual manner or both can be used where the left stick is held like a pen, allowing the player to alternate left hand strikes between both heads, sometimes with incredible speed.
•High Position: Again, I have seen this drum mounted in the shoulder-high position and played like an O-Daiko. I have also seen this drum played with a long version of 'hot-rods' a stick made up of many smaller dowels.
Shime-Daiko. I am aware of two positions for this drum
•Low position: Mounted on a frame formed from a single length of solid wire about 1cm thick. The playing area sits about 12" off the floor angled towards the player. The player sits cross-legged in front of the drum to play it.
•Mounted: in this position the drum is placed on a cradle similar to that used by the Oki-Daiko. With this mounting the drum can be played from a standing position as it will be at the same height as both the Chu-daiko and Oki-Daiko.
Learning Taiko Taiko is traditionally taught orally using 'Kuchi Showa' which is a systyem of giving each stroke or combination of strokes a word. The word also indicates which part of the skin / rim / body is struck as well as giving the rhythmic elements. The basic premise is that if you can say it, you can play it.
THE FOLLOWING SECTIONS ARE BORROWED FROM TATSUMAKI TAIKO Sounds, used in teaching taiko by "kuchi showa": (taken from Tatsumaki Taiko) The following chart shows the most commonly used phonetic alphabet used to learn taiko songs.
These phonetic words are used to express both the sound and emphasis of the beats, as well as the time value of the beats. As a result, the notation is not exact compared to the western method of music notation. There are 4 columns in the chart: the first shows the taiko player's sound, the next the shimedaiko player's, then the atarigane & "canon" sounds, and finally the meaning and value of the sound.
Taiko Shimedaiko
Taiko Shimedaiko Atarigane, Canon Meaning & Musical Value
Don (Kon) Ten Chan A single loud beat to the center (hara) of the drum. The left hand on a taiko is sometimes called "kon." This could be considered the equivalent of a quarter note; but could also be a half note, etc..
Do (Ko, Ro) Te (Ke, Re) Chi (Ki) A single firm beat to the hara, but with a value 1/2 that of "don" (the left is sometimes called "ko" or "ke"). This would be an eighth note, if "don" is a quarter note.
DoKo TeKe ChiKi 2 Fast beats of equal sound, and power. This would be the equivalent of 2 eighth notes.
DoRo TeRe ChiRi 2 Fast beats, but with a slight "rolling" feel to the beats. Played "right, left."
Tsu Tsu Tsu A note played softly. The value of the note is variable.
TsuKu TsuKu TsuKu 2 Fast beats played softly (the left hand is "ku").
Ka Ka n/a A beat played on the edge of the drum (fuchi), sometimes on the body (ko).
KaRa KaRa* n/a 2 Fast beats played on the fuchi, with a slight "rolling" feel to the beats. Played "right, left."
Su Su Su A rest. The value of the rest is variable, but usually it is one beat of the pulse of the meter.
Zu Zu n/a Another term for a soft beat, sometimes played with a slight "drag" to the beat.
*not normally played on a shimedaiko
Taiko Dictionary (used with thanks to Tatsumaki Taiko)
•Taiko - the generic Japanese word for drum, sometimes spelled "daiko" when combined with another word.

•Nagadou Daiko, Miya Daiko - the most common taiko, these are the drums used most frequently in festivals. Usually between 18 to 36 inches in diameter, with the taiko body length equal to, or longer than the diameter. The name literally means "long drum." Nagadou Daiko are made from a single log (of zelkova, or "keyaki"), they have a loud booming sound. They can either be played resting on their end ("flat"), or on a stand in either a horizontal or diagonal position.

•O-Daiko - the largest taiko, some can be 6 feet or more in diameter! These are the drums made famous by "Kodo" and "Ondekoza," Japan's premier taiko groups. Taiko groups will sometimes paint a "mitsudomoe" (3 sided "ying/yang" symbol) on the O-daiko skins. O-daiko are played on stands in a horizontal position ("kagami uchi"), often with a drummer on each side of the same drum.

•Chu Daiko - a taiko that is larger than a "miya daiko" or "jozuke," but smaller than an "O-daiko." Usually about 24 to 40 inches in diameter.

•Wadaiko, Miya Daiko, Nagadou Daiko, Jozuke - all are terms used for a taiko between 18 to 24 inches, that can be played flat ("beta uchi"), or on a slanted stand ("sukeroku" style). Note: some US taiko groups refer to a taiko this size as a "jozuke." That term comes from the taiko group "O-Edo Sukeroku Daiko" of Tokyo, and is not commonly used by others in Japan.

•Shime Daiko and Tsukeshime Daiko - the small high pitched taiko (usually with a head 14 to 16 inches in diameter) that often plays the "jiuchi" of a song. The name comes from the word "to tighten," since the skins are traditionally held with rope (sometimes bolts) and can be tuned.

•Eitetsu Okedo Daiko, Kakko - taiko that look like small Okedaiko, and made of stave construction. The Eitetsu Okedo is named after Eitetsu Hayashi, one of the founders of "Ondekoza." Traditionally these drums were used in festivals, and worn around the player's neck. The skins on these drums are held with rope, like Shimedaiko, or large Okedo.

•Hira Do, Hira Daiko - a taiko cut to a quarter of the height of a standard taiko. Often hung on a frame in a horizontal position. Hira daiko have a deep tone, with a sharper attack and quicker decay than Nagadou Daiko.

•Okedo Taiko, Oke Daiko - a large taiko with 2 hooped heads held with rope (like a shime, or tsukeshime). Okedo are usually about 36 inches or more in diameter, and 4 to 6 feet in length, played on a stand ("kagami uchi"), and have a deep sound. These drums were originally made from buckets or barrels called "oke."

•Uchiwa Daiko - a "fan" drum. Uchiwa are shaped like a fan, with the skin stretched around a metal hoop. They have no body, just the hoop with a handle, and come in various sizes. Their sound is similar to Remo "Roto-tom" drums. Tatsumaki Taiko

Parts of a Taiko:
•Ko - the body of the drum.
•Hara - the center of the skin.
•Fuchi - the edge of the top and bottom of the drum.
•Kawa - the skin.
•Mimi - the excess skin that wraps around the side of the taiko.
•Byou - the tacks that hold the skin on a taiko.
•Kanagu, or Kan - the ring shaped handles on larger nagadou taiko. ("Kanagu" literally means metal fixtures, or hardware).
•Nawa - the rope on a shime or okedo daiko.
Tatsumaki Taiko
Taiko Measurements and Dimensions:
•Shaku - the measurement used for large taiko. 1 shaku = 30 cm/12 inches. A shaku is made of 10 smaller units called sun. Usually the shaku diameter of the head is used to categorize a taiko, so drums will be referred to as 1.5 shaku, or 2 shaku...
•Sun - the measurement used for small taiko, and bells and cymbals. 1 sun = 3 cm, or 1 and 3/16 ths inches. A shimedaiko's skin diameter is measured in shaku, but the shell is measured in sun. Standard sizes are 5, 6 and 7 sun.
Shimedaiko Sizes
•In addition the weight & thickness of the skin is used to categorize a shimedaiko:
Namizuke - lightest weight, thinnest skin. Not normally used for taiko performances.
•Nichougake - also called a "Number 2." Slightly heavier & thicker than a namizuke.
•Sanchougake - also called a "Number 3." Heavier & thicker....one of the more popular sizes.
•Yonchougake - also called a "Number 4." Probably the most popular size among taiko groups.
•Gochougake - also called a "Number 5." The heaviest and thickest skin. Can be tightened to a very high pitch.
Tatsumaki Taiko
Types of Wood: Japanese name in bold - English equivalent (if any), and use in taiko, antiques, etc..
•Keyaki - Zelkovia, used to make single piece taiko and shimedaiko bodies.
•Tochi - Horse Chestnut, used to make single piece taiko bodies.
•Sen - Unknown, used to make single piece taiko and shimedaiko bodies.
•Nara - Scrub Oak, used by Kawada Taiko to make their "Hi-Tech Taikos" which are constructed from staves, also used for Bachi.
•Tamo - Unknown, used by Kawada Taiko to make their "Hi-Tech Taikos" which are constructed from staves.
•Hinoki - Cypress, used to make bachi, especially for O-daiko.
•Matsu - Pine, used for bachi, especially for O-daiko.
•Kashi - Evergreen Oak, used for bachi (all sizes), and for dai (stands).
•Haku - Oak (general term).
•Hoo - Magnolia, used for bachi, all sizes.
•Buna - Beech, used for bachi, all sizes.
•Take - Bamboo, used to make fue (flutes), and for special types of bachi.
•Kaede - Maple, used for special bachi.
•Kiri - Paulownia, used for special bachi. Also used in furniture and antiques.
•Sugi - Cedar, used in furniture and antiques.
•Kaba - Birch, used in making western drums.
•Hannoki - Alder, used in furniture and antiques.
Tatsumaki Taiko
Other Instruments:
•Bachi - taiko sticks.
•ane - a bell, or small gong (see Atarigane).
•Dora - a gong.
•Suzu - also means bell. Usually small round bells. The bells at a Shinto shrine are referred to as "suzu."
•Atarigane, or Chanchiki - a saucer shaped bell, often hung from a cord like a small gong. Atarigane are played with a "shumoku," a single stick that traditionally has a piece of deer antler on the end. The atarigane often keeps the "jiuchi" of a song.
•Chappa, or Tebyoushi - small hand cymbals that are used in place of an Atarigane, (or "Canon,") to keephe "jiuchi" or basic rhythm of a song.
•Canon, or Tetsu-tsutsu - a set of bells on a stand consisting of high and low pitched bells with a hollow metallic piece in between of indefinite pitch. The 2 bells are usually tuned to a 3rd or 4th step, as in Latin music. The middle piece makes a metallic "ching" sound. The "canon" (or "tetsu-tsutsu" in Japanese) is used to play the basic beat.
•Tsutsumi - the small hourglass shaped drum used in traditional Japanese music, and Noh theater. Tsutsumi are played with the hands, not with bachi.
•Hyoushigi - wooden "clapers." Two wooden blocks tied together with rope, and struck together to produce a clave like sound. Used in old Japan by street merchants to call their customers.
•Narimono - the generic term for small percussion instruments.
•Fue - means "flute" in Japanese. Fue come in many sizes and pitches, but they are generally high in pitch and made of bamboo (called shinobue).
•Shakuhachi - a special Japanese flute made of a long piece of bamboo. Shakuhachi have a low melancholy sound.
Tatsumaki Taiko
Other Taiko terms:
•Ashi dai - a stand with legs (ashi), usually ashi dai will hold a drum in a horizontal position so that the middle of the drum is slightly above eye-level.
•Beta uchi - playing a taiko that sits flat on the floor with one skin horizontal.
•Dai - The generic word for a stand.
•Dojo - the Japanese term used for a school, or a group in training.
•Hachijo daiko - a style of playing taiko where the taiko rests horizontally on a stand at about shoulder height, so the 2 heads are vertical to the player. Drummers play both sides of the taiko - one side plays the "O-uchi," while the other plays the "Ji-uchi." This style originated on Hachijo Island, and is known for its flashy arm movements, and impressive stick work.
•Hayashi (or Bayashi) - a musical band, or accompaniment. Also refers to festival music, for example "Matsuri no Bayashi."
•Henbyoushi - change of rhythm.
•Hyoushi - musical time, a rhythm, or a musical time pattern.
•Ikko - the first beat of a war drum.
•Ji-uchi, or Jikata - the basic feel and meter of a taiko song.
•Kagami uchi - playing a taiko that rests horizontally on a stand. The 2 heads are vertical to the player. Used for O-Daiko, and Hachijo styles. Sometimes drummers play both sides of the same taiko.
•Ka kai e - playing an Okedo held by a strap over the drummer's shoulder. This style is generally associated with "Kodo" and Leonard Eto (a former member). Although "ka kai e" originally comes from festivals, Leonard Eto and "Kodo" popularized the speedy stick work and cross-over arm movements that are now associated with it.
•Kamaete - the performers' starting position for a taiko song.
•Kata - the performers' positioning and movement. This is a term borrowed from martial arts, and loosely means "form."
•Ki ai, or Kakegoe - the shouts and verbal cues that taiko players use to keep time, increase their energy, and encourage one another while playing.
•Kuchi showa - the method of teaching and learning taiko songs by the use of an "alphabet of sounds." For example, "Don" for a loud beat to the center of the drum, and "Tsu" for a soft beat.
•Kumi daiko - the arrangement of many different taiko into a drum set, as in a western drum kit. This style shows the influence of jazz and dance band drumming in modern taiko.
•Matsuri - means "festival" in Japanese. Taiko is often played at a matsuri, for example "O-bon Matsuri". There is even a song called "Matsuri Daiko," which has many regional variations. Each version celebrating the uniqueness of the community that performs it.
•Miyake daiko - a style of taiko where a large taiko rests "kagami uchi" (horizontal) on a low stand. Sometimes 2 taiko are used, with the player in between. This style originated on Miyake Island, and is unique in the way drummers must position themselves to play the taiko on low stands.
•Onbayashi - the style of playing a nagadou taiko where the drummer is lying on the floor in a reclining position. The taiko rests on a low stand in a horizontal position, the drummer's legs straddle the taiko. This style comes from the piece "Yatai bayashi" and was popularized by "Ondekoza."
•Oritatami dai - translates as "folding stand." This is the general term for any folding leg taiko stand, including slant or diagonal stands. Slanted stands are sometimes called "sukeroku dai" by US taiko groups. The term "sukeroku" was coined by "O-Edo Sukeroku Daiko" of Tokyo, and is not generally used by others in Japan. For example, a taiko catalog would list a slant stand as an "oritatami dai," not as a "sukeroku dai."
•Oroshi - played at the beginning of a performance or song to focus the player on the taiko, and bring a group of drummers together. Usually an oroshi starts with slow beats that gradually increase in speed and intensity until a fast roll is played.
•O-uchi - the main player, or the "song" part of a taiko piece.
•Renshu - means "practice." As a warm-up, some groups play a "renshu daiko" or practice exercise.
•Sukeroku - a style of playing where the taiko rests in slanted (diagonal) position. Popular in the Edo (Tokyo) area, and traditionally played at "matsuri." This style has been taken to new heights by a group from Tokyo called "O-Edo Sukeroku Daiko."
•Tekoto - a style of playing where the drummer alternately plays the "hara" and the "fuchi" of the taiko.
•Uchite - a taiko drummer.
Tatsumaki Taiko
Other Music terms:
•Ainote - interlude; accompaniment; strain of music
•Bugaku - court dance and music
•Bukyoku - musical dance; music and dancing.
•Butoukyoku - dance music.
•Chouchou - major key (music notation).
•Ei - a sharp (music notation).
•Eihechouchou - F sharp major (music notation).
•Ensou - music performance.
•Fukikomu - to blow into; to breathe into; to inspire; to lay down a recording (music, video, etc.).
•Fumen - written music.
•Fumendai - music stand.
•Gagaku - old Japanese court music.
•Gakufu - score (written music).
•Gigaku - ancient music.
•Gosen - staff (music notation).
•Gosenfu - a written music score.
•Gosenshi - music paper.
•Gouchou - tuning (music instruments).
•Gungaku - military music.
•Hakusuu - count of beats in music.
•Han'on - half tone (music notation).
•Han'onkai - chromatic (music scale).
•Happyoukai - recital (i.e. of music, by a pupil).
•Hassou - expression (when referring to music).
•Heikinritsu - temperament (music).
•Hen - flat (music notation).
•Henrotanchou - B flat minor (music scale).
•Hensoukyoku - variation (music).
•Iemoto - the head of a school (of music, dance).
•Ikkyoku - a tune (melody, piece of music).
•Jinrai - wind instruments.
•Jouen - performance (when referring to music).
•Kagura - ancient Shinto music and dancing.
•Kangen - music for wind and string instruments.
•Kangengaku - orchestral music.
•Kigaku - instrumental music.
•Kogaku - ancient (early) music.
•Kokyoku - old music.
•Kyoku - tune; piece of music.
•Kyouon - accent (music notation).
•Kyuufu - rest (music notation).
•Kyuushifu - rest (music); period; full stop.
•Mimigakoeteiru - to have an ear for music.
•Myuujikku - the word "music" spelled phonetically in Japanese.
•Okesa - type of traditional vocal music.
•Ondai - College of Music (abbreviation).
•Ongaku - music.
•Ongakudaigaku - College of Music.
•Ongakushi - music history.
•Onpu - music; notes; notation.
•Saifu - writing a melody on music paper; recording a tune in musical notes.
•Sakkyoku - composition (of music).
•Sanbyoushi - triple time (music).
•Seigaku - vocal music.
•Shuusaku - study (when referring to music).
•Suisougaku - music for wind instruments.
•Tanchou - minor key (music notation).
•Teion - rest (music notation, obsolete).
•Teionpu - rest (music notation, obsolete).
•Zen'on - whole tone (music).
•Zenkyuushifu - whole rest (music notation).
•Zokuchou - popular music; "vulgar" music.
•Zokugaku - popular music, world music.
•Tatsumaki Taiko
•Happi, or Hanten - the colorful "short coats" that are usullay worn with an "obi" (belt). Often the happi bears the name and logo (called "mon") of the taiko group.
•Fundoshi - the cloth that is wrapped around a man's legs and waist (basically like small jockey pants), and worn when playing the O-daiko or Okedo. In Japan men still wear fundoshi during summer matsuri, for example when carrying a "mikoshi" or pulling a "yatai."
•Haragake - originally used as a carpenter's apron. Haragake look like aprons, they cover the chest and stomach, and have straps that criss-cross over the shoulders.
•Tabi - shoes worn by taiko players. They are similar to high-top "kung fu" shoes, but the big toe is separated like the thumb of a mitten.
•Momohiki - the pants often worn by taiko players. They are like long under pants, or tights, but tie around the waist.
•Hachimaki - the head band worn by many taiko players (and sushi-ya).
•Obi - the belt that holds a kimono or happi coat. Tatsumaki Taiko