Indie Pop Taiko Experiment: Japanese Breakfast “Machinist”


There were a few things from the previous K-Pop Taiko Experiment that I wasn’t very satisfied with. In a nutshell, it was too close to a typical drum kit.  It didn’t really sound unique or interesting.  And I wasn’t utilizing the taiko to its fullest potential.  Shame on me as a taiko drummer!

Recording Methods

For this recording, I am using the same gear as the K-Pop and Hip-Hop experiments: SM57 on the Snare and Shime, Beta 52a on the Floor Tom.

One of the challenges was where to put the Shime mic. I think you can see I moved the Chu to my left. (I’ll elaborate a little more on why I did this later.) The problem is that there was no way to mic the Shime without it getting in the way. For this recording, the Shime is on the resonant (bottom) side. I don’t know if you can tell, but it’s a different sound than the previous two recordings.

In this recording the Floor Tom mic was moved directly under the center of the head. In the previous two recordings, it was slightly off center, and pointed at the shell. I was hoping this would get me a bigger Floor Tom sound without having to use so much processing.

Performance Methods

In order to force myself to think more as a percussionist, I removed the cymbals and hi-hat.  Draw upon Gionvanni Hidalgo’s setup with four congas, I used a similar tonal setup in hopes of getting a more melodic sound. Also, I changed the positions of the drums so the Chu was flat instead of on a slant stand.  I also turned the Snare wires off, so it would sound more like an additional tom.

Another thing I tried was using tea towels. We hear them on a lot of Classic Rock recording such as “Come Together” by the Beatles.  I was hoping this would allow me to hit relatively hard during the soft section of the song.  The aim was to gain the momentum and timbre of hitting hard, but without the overpowering volume.

Mixing Methods

I mentioned this earlier, but the shime mic is on the bottom head, and not the top. During the mix, I noticed there was less pop. I don’t know if this is very audible in the recording, but it’s a difference I noticed. For this mix, I went for a little more of a “natural” sound. As a result, the floor tom is much closer to what it actually sounds like.

Conclusion: Back to the Drawing Board 🙁

Long story short, none of the things that I tried really worked.  First of all, there’s very little difference with the tea towels on and off. There was a significant different when playing (I swear!), but it unfortunately didn’t translate over into the recordings. Also, I don’t like the Floor Tom sound. There is way too much attack, which makes it impossible mold into a round and boomy sound in the mix. There was a lot more flexibility with the Beta 52a slightly facing the shell.

In terms of the setup, I’ll be going to back to having the Chu on a slant stand and moving it to my right.  That way I’ll be able to mic the top head of the Shime. I didn’t get the results I wanted, but there were lots of lessons learned in the process