What is Taiko?
Taiko (太鼓) are a broad range of Japanese percussion instruments. Within Japan, the term refers to any kind of drum, but outside Japan, the term is often used to refer to any of the various Japanese drums called wadaiko (和太鼓) and to the relatively recent art-form of ensemble taiko drumming more specifically called kumi-daiko (組太鼓, lit. “drum collection”). While taiko have a mythological origin story, the instrument or its predecessor appears to have originated in India or southeast Asia and archaeological evidence suggests that taiko have existed in Japan as far back as the Kofun period (250-238AD). Their function has varied through history, ranging from communication, military action, theatrical accompaniment, festival performances, and entertainment.
The tradition of kumi-daiko in Japan, often characterized by several players on different drums, can be traced back to 1951 through the work of Daihachi Oguchi and has continued with world-renowned groups such as Kodo. Other performance styles have also emerged from specific island communities around Japan. Today, kumi-daiko performance groups can be found not only in Japan, but in many countries all over the world.
Taiko performance consists not only of technical training in playing rhythms, but also includes components in form, stick grip, clothing, and the particular arrangement of instruments chosen. Many groups use not only drums, but also vocal components, string, and woodwind instruments for accompaniment. (Wikipedia, 2013)