Monday, December 11, 2006

Taiko Gogawadaiko & Seido Taiko
a Japanese term that can mean "interval" or "space" (i.e., 'a' tto iu ma; the space it takes to say 'a'; compare to the English saying "in the blink of an eye"). It is used in music to describe a period of silence. In taiko music, ma is the period between hits on the drum. It is important to appreciate this silence when playing taiko, just as you would appreciate the sound of a hit on the drum. Since ensemble taiko is focused on rhythm, the ma of a piece is critical to adding drama, excitement, and tension. Ma can be a rhythmic rest, or an extended silence, to be broken at the player's discretion. If the player concentrates on hearing the ma between each hit, in addition to the hits themselves, he or she will create a much more effective and satisfying sound. A good example of how ma is used is in oroshi.
is characterized by a series of hits on the taiko. The player starts out slowly with lots of ma. Gradually the ma (space) between each hit becomes shorter and shorter, until the drummer is playing a rapid roll of hits.

Uses of the taiko in warfare

In feudal Japan, taiko were often used to motivate troops, to help set a marching pace, and to call out orders or announcements. Approaching or entering a battle, the taiko yaku (drummer) was responsible for setting the marching pace, usually with six paces per beat of the drum (beat-2-3-4-5-6, beat-2-3-4-5-6).

According to one of the historical chronicles (the Gunji Yoshu), nine sets of five beats would summon an ally to battle, while nine sets of three beats, sped up three or four times is the call to advance and pursue an enemy.

[click on photo for more images]

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