Drummer Talk

The growth of Taiko drumming in North America

The art of Taiko drumming is one of intrigue and mystery that typically is only experienced in its native homeland of Japan; however, there are a growing number of Taiko ensembles in North America.

“It goes back over a thousand years in Japan, and as a lot of folk music does, it has some religious connotations,” says [instructor, Mark H.] Rooney, who studied in Japan and with prominent American performers. “Taiko historically was used in festivals to entertain or awaken the kami, the spirits.”

Meghan Clyne of Palo Alto, California, first saw Taiko in Japan, where she lived as a teenager, but didn’t get a chance to play and appreciate the range of the form until she was living back to the U.S.

“What a lot of people don’t realize, and what I didn’t realize before I started playing, is the stunning breadth and depth of Taiko,” she says. “People think, ‘It’s just a drum.’ But they don’t realize how many different sounds and styles can come from one drum, and that there are in fact many drums, played in many different ways. And when you consider all the different mixes and matches of movement, sound, style, positioning, ensemble playing, etc…, the possibilities are infinite.”

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