(drum music) - [Narrator] Power.
These are all words that describe Taiko drumming as we see and hear it today.
Known as the heartbeat of Japan the art form, balances, music, dance, and athletics into a dynamic demonstration of Japanese culture.
- The word Taiko means drum in Japanese.
- This is Kumidaiko, an ensemble based form of Taiko.
and if you've ever seen a Taiko performance before this might be what you recognize.
There are two things that may surprise you about this art form.
One, that it was developed as recently as 1951 and two that it may not exist without the influence of jazz.
(upbeat music) So I'm a drummer and my background is in jazz and in gospel but I've never played Taiko before, so in this video, Linda and I are gonna learn about Kumidaiko and I'm going to get a Taiko lesson later on and see how it compares to jazz drumming.
- Hey welcome.
- [Chiaki] I'm Chiaki - Chaiki?
- And I'm Jen, - Jen - Nice to meet you.
- Nice to meet y'all - Gonna just start with some very, very basic things like just breathing.
This is the way we start a rehearsal or a class is three different breaths, big breaths.
And the final thing is there's a ki that's the vocal part of Taiko and ki is just an expression of the spirit.
Also sometimes it's, you know, it's written it's part of the music.
Everyone who learns the song, learns the ki to go with it.
But a lot of times is just how you feel in the moment.
Rhythmic instruments have existed in Japan for around 2000 years.
Drums brought in from China were adapted into a uniquely Japanese style, a style that facilitated the practice of Shinto, an indigenous Japanese religion in which worships, ancestors and nature spirits through the spiritual art form.
Taiko became an intimate part of many village activities.
Taiko would later become a big part of Chai ki or religious festivals.
Every town in ancient Japan would hold their own festivals that began to incorporate Taiko, drumming and dancing due to their deep resonant sounds, Taiko were also used by the military and towns folk as a way to deliver messages or signals across large distances for hundreds of years Taiko existed in these two ways, as an essential part of dancing at religious festivals and a communication device.
- In 1951, a jazz drummer named Daihachi Oguchi was asked to play an old sheet of Taiko music discovered in an attic when he was finally able to interpret the old Japanese notation.
He discovered that the music was extremely simple because it was written to be played in unison.
He began toying with new, more complex ideas and later realized that different types of Taiko played by a group of people could be used to effectively emulate a Western drum set.
- These midsize drums here we call the Chu Daiko - Chu Daiko.
- And they generally hold the melody, - okay.
- And this is just very general.
- Over here, - Chu Daiko.
- Chu Daiko.
- This is the Shime Daiko.
Shimesza means to tighten.
And so you can tighten with bolts or rope as the highest pitch sound.
And that's usually your timekeeper, your, your beekeeper your G keeper.
- I like that.
- The Shime is very similar to the snare drum in - Absolutely.
- So this is the big base.
This is our largest drum, which is the Odaiko.
- Oh Odaiko.
- Oh, Odaiko.
- This is Tiffany Tamari Buchi.
Not only was she the first female foreigner to win an Odaiko competition in Japan.
She also created the first all women Taiko Onsombo, Jodaiko.
I wanna know.
How did you choose to play the Odaiko?
Was it that power that was a part of it?
Or were you just drawn to it?
- Yeah, I was drawn to the physicality and the power in it.
And the overall style of it, the way it really involves your whole body, the way it involves a lot of spirit and a lot of presence and a lot of power.
I had a motivation to learn the style and as I started to do it, I actually learned I was pretty good at it.
- And then we added the phrases right.So, - okay.
- The phrases are simple.
So, uumm,Don - Don.
- Hit in the center.
- Ka hit on the wood and then how you play it is how you say it.
So yes, - I'll say it.
Don, Don KA, Don.
- All right.
So, Don (drumming continues) - Various Kumi Daiko groups were established in the 1950s and 60s.
Some of these groups such as Kodo still exist and perform around the world today - Taiko existed prior to 1951 but the art form was completely reinvented.
since then, Kumi Daiko has spread to all corners of the world.
It became a way for Japanese Americans to reclaim their Japanese heritage inspired by the civil rights movement in the 1960s - To connect with that part of culture.
And that part of history is important to me.
And so to be able to, as a Japanese American connect with that part of my heritage in Japan and to be accepted as a woman and as an American and as a a Taiko player was also important to me and my sense of identity.
- You know, these drums are huge and they take so much physical power and that's something that, you know regardless of traditions, that's something that's really identified as male.
And when you, when you flip that and have these gorgeous amazing women playing so powerfully, but playing with their own kind of energy and experience, it's, it's sort of revolutionary - Speed.
- So like - Yes, like that now, now after you hit do this hit and just make sure there you go, there you go.
Do that hit - Now on the way out?
ah, float float, float, float, float, float, float float all the way back.
- Until you're ready to hit again, - Hit again - And then float and then Like your laser cutting across the sky.
Float all the way, all the way back.
- You look much bigger.
- Like, so - Yeah.
Ooh, look at that.
- Oh - Okay.
You gotta be strong to, to do - Don doko doko doko don doko.
- ka and Don is just boom and ka.
- To me, - right.
In the center.
ka, ka, ka on edge.
- Ah, ka.
- So same idea.
Boom, boom, ka , boom, boom, boom ka.
Oh, boom, boom.
- Can we, can we play together?
I'd love to.
- Can you play a rhythm?
So I'll say my way.
- Yes, - but, but we'll figure it out how to say it the Taiko way.
And this is how it goes.
It goes like this 1, 2, 3, like this boom, boom, boom, Boom Ka ,boom, boom, ka ,boom ,boom , .
- Taiko has brought together communities of all ages and genders to play in dance to the heartbeat of Japan.
The two - Thanks so much for watching our episode on Taiko drumming.
If you want more on Taiko, be sure to check out this video on if CDs could dance, Tiffany shares with us how Taiko has impacted her life and how it keeps her community in Sacramento strong.
- And here are your submissions from our last video where we ask you what your favorite Brandy vocal moment is.
- Brandy's catalog is without a doubt iconic but I have to say my favorite song for Brandy's off her latest album, be seven.
And it's called borderline the vocal harmonies in that song is absolutely ridiculous.
I, I still lose words when I think of the song.