Smooth Jazz Taiko Experiment: Hiroshima “One Wish”

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Smooth Jazz Taiko Experiment: Hiroshima “One Wish”

This project would not be complete without a tribute to Hiroshima.  Hiroshima is one of the first (if not the first) successful band to feature Japanese instruments such as koto and taiko.  Thank you for the music.

Hiroshima is an American jazz fusion/smooth jazz/Asian-American jazz band formed in 1974 by Sansei Japanese American Dan Kuramoto (wind instruments and band leader), Peter Hata (guitar), June Kuramoto (koto), Johnny Mori (percussion and taiko), Dave Iwataki (keyboards) and Danny Yamamoto (drums). Named for the Japanese city of Hiroshima, the band is best known for the fusing of Japanese music and other forms of world music into its playing. Its early jazz-pop R&B Funk sound gave the group a huge following among the African American community and they are regarded as musical pioneers among the Asian American and Japanese American community. Wikipedia – Hiroshima (band)

In some of the previous videos, I’ve alluded to Bon Daiko (Beyoncé “Countdown”) or Tsugaru Jongara Bushi (Monkey Majik & Yoshida Brothers “Change”).  For this particular video, I wanted to reference a uniquely American taiko experience and pay tribute to the grandfather of North American Taiko.  If you’re a taiko drummer, you’ll notice I allude quite heavily to “Soko Bayashi” by Seiichi Tanaka of San Francisco Taiko Dojo.  It’s a great piece celebrating the diversity of the Bay Area.

Mic Placement of the Overheads

For this particular recording, I placed the overheads much closer to the drums than usual.  This is because my room is noisy and has a lot of slapback.  By placing the mics closer to the drums, I was hoping to reduce the amount of noise.  When the mics are closer to the drums, they pick up more of the drums.  The ratio between sound and noise would improve.  I would be able to lower the gain, thus reducing the amount of noise.

How did this work out?  Well, not very good.  You can hear that the drums breathe less.  It made these recordings more difficult to work with.  Upon speaking with an engineer friend, the only real way would be to treat the room.  Therefore, I’ll be trying out some sound panels to see if they improve the sound.

Conclusion

I learned so much recording these drum covers over the past few months.  First of all, the recording method has a tremendous impact on the final sound.  This experiment has given me a much clearer idea of what I want my taiko recordings to sound like.  Second, I learned a lot about how to play in a pop music context.  For example, we want to allude to sounds we always hear in a particular music genre.  However, we don’t want to blatantly copy these sounds either.  It’s a fine line of alluding to those sounds just enough to maintain the context, but also creating something unique to the art form of taiko.

I hope this project has been useful in tackling some of the problems related to recording taiko.  Please reach out and let’s talk about recording taiko!  I would love to talk more, exchange ideas, and try to improve my sound.  Thank you for reading!  Hope to talk to you soon.

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