roped drum, rivetted drum, tsuzumi, etc.

Drumming class (Wadaiko class)



A rope or shirabe-o is first attached in a vertical direction to fix the skins.
It is then pulled horizontally to control the tightness. If
the skin is not pulled tightly, the surface tension of the skin
becomes loose, and the drum produces a low-pitched sound.  If the skin
is pulled tightly, it will produce a high-pitched sound from the


Shoga is a special method, by which the sound of the shime-daiko can be
pronounced phonetically by human mouth.  Depending on the which stick is
used (right or left) and on the tempo, different sounds such as "ten",
"te", "re", "tu" and "ku" are used.  For example, using this method, a
drum performance could be expressed as, "te-re-tu-ku-ten-ten".

nagauta hayashi

In Shime-daiko used for Noh and also for Kabuki-Nagauta, the performer
places the instrument on the stand in a slightly tilted manner.  The
performer holds the sticks in both of his/her hands and prepares to beat
the drum using his/her entire arms and elbows.  It is important that the
entire arm is used to play this instrument and not just the movement of
the hands.  Note however, that in many folk art performances and in
kabuki(Nagauta)-bayashi, where thin sticks are utilized, this is not the
case and only hand motions are used to beat this drum.


In Kagura performances, there are two types of Shimedaiko. 
One is the type which both sides of the drum are
played with two sticks. 
Another variation uses only one side of the drum.

( photo by Kota )

This is a representative traditional folk art performance that can be
seen in various areas throughout Japan.  The style can be classified into
Dengaku-odori, Furyu-odori, Shishi-mai (Deer-dance), Shishi-mai
(Lion-dance), etc.  For all these styles, people usually form a circle or
a line, or some combination of both.  As people follow a certain
formation, performers play the drum tied around their breast or the trunk
of their body using a stickss held in each hand.


How to beat 1
This is a very traditional performance method for this drum,
where the bachi/sticks are swung downward from the right shoulder.  This
method evolved so that the performer can have a better view of what is
going on the stage as he/she plays the instrument.

How to beat 2
The performer places his/her body facing the drum.  The right hand
bachi/stick , and the left bachi/stick are swung down straight to beat the
skin of the drum.

How to beat 3

Kabuki-geza "Yuki oto" (Sound of the snow) performed by nagadou-daiko.
In Geza-music used in Kabuki, images are often expressed through sounds.
A sound from deep in the mountains (Yama-oroshi), the sound of a heavy
falling snow (yuki-oto), and the sound of a ghost's appearance (dorodoro)
a few examples of images that can be expressed through the sound of the
Taiko(drum).  The Geza-music for Kabuki functions in a similar style to
the current BGM.

How to beat 4

Kabuki-geza "Nami oto" (Sound of the waves) performed by Nagadou-daiko.
In Kabuki's geza music, actual sounds from nature can't be recorded and
played during the actual performance, therefore an Oodaiko (Nailed large
drum) is utilized to express such natural sounds as rain, wind, water and
waves.  In all cases, the long sticks are used. Depending on what sounds
are being expressed, the method of hitting the drum will vary.  It can
also help to express the personality of a character, or give a dramatic
effect to a scene.  The main melody line often uses shamisen and utilizes
oodaiko and four other instruments (Fue, Tsudumi, Ootsudumi, Taiko) in Noh
performance. Other various instruments are also utilized to add to Kabuki

* Oo-daiko is a large size nagadou-daiko ( more than 91cm across )


Kumidaiko (Combination drum) is a performance method where different
pitched drums are combined together to create an orchestra of differently
pitched drums.  At the same time, one drum can also be played by several
different performers to create variety.  These types of new approaches to
drum performances are becoming quite popular
in many groups and music classes.

bon dance BGM
During the Bon period the local people gather in the open and dance in circles around a tower with a nagadou-daiko

Hiradou-daiko is simple, and used in a folk dance class, or stage, etc.
In a temple or shrine it is set like this picture.
But in other cases it's set on a low stand called zou-ashi
( elephant's foot ) or a high stand.

The uniqueness of Kotsudumi is in its ability to change the pitch and the
tone of its sound during an actual performance.  Controlling the
Shirabe(Rope), which changes the surface tension of the instrument's skin,
makes this possible.  Unlike the Ootsudumi, the skin is not kept dry.
Instead, one blows moist breath, or wets Japanese paper with one's own
saliva to give it as much moisture as possible.

The sound of Kotsudumi is often described as "Tsubu"(Particle).  Shoga is
a method where this sound is verbalized by human mouth in a phonetic
manner. Depending on the pitch of a certain sound, its loudness, and
rhythm, the performer pronounces these sounds as chi, ta, pu, and po.
This is utilized during practice sessions, and is also useful for
memorizing the basic flow and the structure of the music.

This instrument is similar to the one used for Noh performance.  The sound
will change depending on the tightness of the shirabeo (rope).  Four
different types of sounds, namely, Chi, Ta, Pu, and Po are combined for
its performance.  For a Nagauta Performance, rhythm and tempo are quite
fast and lively. 
The head of the Ootsudumi is made out of horse skin. Both the surface
and the back of the skin are smoked using charcoal to eliminate moisture
from the skin. The skin is then tightly pulled to create surface tension.
When the performer hits such a dry tightly pulled skin with his bare
hands, it can hurt terribly.  Because of this, the performer places a
finger-cover skin on his middle and ring finger
and a palm-cover skin on his palm to prevent pain and possible injury.

Verbally created sound, replicating the sound of the drum (shoga)
consists of 3 sounds; tu, chon, and don.  During rehearsals, cheer and
shoga are combined for practice purposes.  An example of this would be
"Tu, chon (shoga), and Yah (cheer)". Sometimes, a su, or a mu sound is
placed in order to capture the rhythm.