Art of Taiko Drumming

Art of Taiko Drumming

by Supakarn Sunthonthammas
JapanTravel

The powerful beat, the heart racing rhythm, the elegant and synchronized postures that can only be obtained from dedicated practice. These are my first impressions from my taiko drumming course with one of the most famous taiko masters in Japan.

Taiko drumming is deeply rooted in Japanese history and is a part of the summer celebration in Japan for hundreds of years. However, starting 30 years ago, it has also become popular among foreigners outside of Japan. Though many may not have the chance to observe a thrilling live performance that will make your heartbeat race to the rhythm of the drum, if you watched movies such as Rising Sun or The Hunted, the taiko scenes on show capture the art of Japanese taiko drumming beautifully.

My taiko master has mastered this craft for over 40 years. He told me that the posture and rhythm of taiko drumming came from the Japanese martial arts e.g. the concentration needs to be from the abdominal as it is the center of power and the importance of correct posture (both legs and arms), before directing your energy through the drumstick to the center of the taiko drum, like it is a part of your body. All this, to achieve a powerful beat and fast paced rhythm accordingly to follow one of the many patterns of taiko drumming.

The first class at Yanesen will teach you the basics from the right posture that allow you to drum the many taiko patterns. You will get to hit the actual taiko (slowly) starting with the more simple patterns. You will get to hear for yourself whether the beat is powerful enough, and keep on practicing until you master the patterns. Finally, the class arrives at the most difficult part, that is, drumming the faster patterns with more difficult postures that require you to split your attention across many important details. In order for you to master the different patterns, the taiko master will always start from the simpler patterns in the first lesson before teaching you a new pattern. For example, when he teaches you pattern D, he will have you play pattern A-B-C-D.

On the first day of class, I had so much fun that I forgot the time. This class is one of many interesting courses from Yanesen Tourist Info. & Culture Center, aimed at those that want to learn more about Japanese culture. Aside from taiko, there are also many other interesting courses including Japanese Cooking Class, Tea Ceremony (Sado), Flower Arrangement (Ikebana), Shiatsu Massage, Iaido Japanese Swordsmanship, and more.

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