The taiko It is a typical drum from Japan. There are several types of taiko. Some have been based on drums from other cultures, while others have been developed natively. Some are large and others are worn during festivals. Some have ornamentation, and are special for the gagaku (music of the imperial court) and other more rustic ones that are used for folk music. In short, there is a rich variety of percussion in Japan.


  • 1 The Taiko family
  • 2 Byou-daiko
  • 3 Shime-daiko

The Taiko family

“Taiko” is a term that is generally used to refer to the performing arts with drums (kumi-daiko), but the word actually refers to the drums themselves. It literally means “big drum”, although there are many varieties and sizes. Sometimes people mistake them for the word daiko, which is a suffix used to refer to the type of drum. When used as a compound word, the “T” becomes “D”, but by itself it remains “T”. Thus, Nagado’s style is known as Nagado-Daiko.

Although it has traditionally been used for certain combinations of specific instruments, the kumi-daiko Modern is not limited to these restrictions. However the nagado-daiko is the most common style. Most groupings include a shime-daiko or more. Other types of drums are also used, such as hira-daiko or the oke-daiko.

A set of instruments is used in the kumi-daiko To fill the sound Hand cymbals (known as chappa or tebyoushi), portable gongs (atarigane or chanchiki), flutes (was or shakuhachi), chestnuts or bells. The bright sound of these instruments adds contrast to the sound and can be easily heard over the drums.

As a general rule, taiko they hit each other with a drumstick called bachi. The only hand drums in Japan seem to be the kotsuzumi and the ootsuzumi Used in classical Japanese music. Everyone else taiko they hit with bachi, and there are a wide variety of types, depending on the wood and the size. They can be made from cedar, bamboo, or other soft woods. Some have chestnuts or bells.

In general, taiko can be divided into two broad categories: taiko studded with studs, known as byou-daiko and those that are tightened and fastened with a hoop or ropes, called shime-daiko.


Also called byou-uchi-daikoThey have bodies that are traditionally carved from a single piece of wood. Such a taiko cannot be tuned once the membrane is tightened. He nagado-daiko (long taiko) is the most representative of this family. The style of this drum is likely to originate from China or Korea.

Since these drums are large, wood from large trees that have a minimum of two hundred years of life are usually used. He odaiko The largest ever produced required the use of a 1,200-year-old tree. However, with proper care, the body can last more than 100 years.

The growing scarcity of forests with old trees has led to prices soaring, or to the artisans who create these instruments to experiment with non-traditional methods of construction, even using new materials such as polymers. The heads are made from cattle hides, and three to four year old black cows are said to have the best hides. The preparations for the leather and the process of stretching it are considered the secret of every craftsman. The odaiko require a whole hide from a holstein bull.

Within the byou-daiko are the following:

  • Nagado-daiko: The most popular in style kumi-daiko. They are common at temple and shrine festivals (where they are known as miya-daiko). They are divided by sizes from small to large in ko-daiko, chuu-daiko and odaiko. They use different types of support to support the drum.
  • Odaiko: It literally means “large drum” and can refer to any large drum. However, it is also used for nagado-daiko larger. It typically stands on a vertical support, with one person at each end of the drum. One plays the base rhythm while the other plays the solos. They weigh more than 3 tons, with 1.80 in diameter.
  • Hira-daiko: It is usually small in size, although it can be large. Large versions are popular as they are less expensive than a nagado-daiko the same size. The smaller ones are not normally used in the kumi-daiko, but they have a special place as an orchestral instrument. They have a reverberant sound like that of a nagado-daiko, but it fades faster due to its shallow depth.


Shime-daiko is a general term used for rope-tensioned drums. This category includes the okedo, as well as percussions used in the noh, kabuki, hayashi, kumi-daiko, etc. The word shime comes from shimeru, which means “tighten” or “adjust.” It is likely that its origin is Japanese. Some shime-daiko they are tensioned with metal rings, or tensioned by second strings. The pitch can be adjusted by changing the tension of this second string.

These are normally used in classical music, although there is a variation known as tsukeshime-daiko which is used for folk music. This has a thicker structure, as well as the leather that is used. This allows it to be taut to reach tones higher than a shime-daiko traditional.

There are also several sizes, from kotsuzumi, which is portable, until okedo, more than 3 meters in diameter.

  • Shime-daiko: Used for music in theater noh or kabuki, and to nagauta. They are light and thin, with a circular patch of deerskin. In assemblies of taiko It is used to maintain the basic rhythm and set the time.
  • Oke-daiko: Also know as okedo, it is made with wooden joints and not in one piece. They tend to be larger than a nagado-daiko typical. They touch horizontally on a podium. They have a large, flat sound, and are played with bamboo sticks.


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