How to Record Taiko Drums
Introducing the Various Types of Taiko
In this video series, I will be showing you how I record taiko drums at my studio in North Hollywood. My name is Isaku and I’m a taiko artist based in Los Angeles. I’ve been playing taiko drums for over 30 years now. It’s truly an honor to record and share the sounds of these instruments with you.
Odaiko (Large Taiko)
The first drum I’d like to show you is a 32-inch Odaiko, which is the largest drum in my studio. Playing the center of the drum produces a dry, punchy sound. On the other hand, playing off-center or on the edges produces a beautiful sustain. As a result, we get a sound similar to the wash of a cymbal or gong.
Chudaiko (Mid-Sized Taiko)
The drums here are 18-inch and 16-inch Chudaiko. I would describe the sound of the Chudaiko as having a very rich resonance and a crisp rim sound. This type of taiko drum is often the main component of an ensemble.
How to Record Taiko Drums: Tunable Taiko
Shimedaiko (Small Taiko)
The Shimedaiko is shaped like a snare drum, and unlike the Odaiko or Chudaiko, it can be tuned by tightening or loosening the bolts. The Shimedaiko usually sits at the top of the frequency range and marks the subdivisions of the music, similar to the way hi-hats do on a drum set.
Okedo (Barrel Drum)
This type of taiko is called an Okedo. The pronounced attack and distinct tone of the Okedo make it a very versatile instrument. For example, playing the Okedo in unison with the Chudaiko adds a layer of definition. As a result, the sound will cut through in the mix. Additionally, in a Pop/Rock context, performers can use the Okedo to mark the backbeat. The result would be similar to playing beats 2 and 4 on a snare drum. And of course the tone of the Okedo sounds great simply played on its own.
How to Record Taiko Drums: Auxiliary Percussion Instruments
Atari Gane (Bells)
These bells are called Atari Gane, and they’re traditionally played with a mallet while muting and unmuting with the hand. On the other hand, performers can play them on a flat surface.
And finally, taiko players call these woodblocks Hyoshigi, and they produce a sound similar to that of a clave. There’s something about the sound of Hyoshigi that grabs your attention. Part of this is because they occupy the higher range of the frequency spectrum. As a result, performers use Hyoshigi to signal the beginning of traditional theatre, festivals, and sumo tournaments.