Taiko Boom

by Sean Gill

This Boomwhacker® piece is based on the traditional Taiko music of Japan. This musical form features energetic, dynamic, and rhythmic performances. The Boomwhacker® melody is also played on the recording by a traditional Japanese string instrument called a koto. The melody is based on a Japanese pentatonic scale called the Kumoi scale. Your students can play this scale by using the D, E, F, A, and B Boomwhackers®. Pentatonic and other non-major/minor scales are common to different types of folk music around the world.

There is an optional frame drum part which can be used throughout the song, except for the first and second endings as indicated. Even there though, it may be helpful as a counting tool. The sixteenth note part in the accompaniment can be tricky as it begins on the 'a' of beat 1 in each ending.

Also, while not exactly syncopated, the placement of notes and rests in the BW part at measure 17 could be challenging for some students. This section makes a good exercise in counting.

"Taiko" is the Japanese word for drum. Taiko are natural skin drums and come in a wide variety of types and designs. Taiko are made with the heads either nailed or tied to the body of the drum. One unique characteristic of taiko is that they are tuned very high relative to their size. This is done to compensate for the high humidity during Japanese summers.

The shime-daiko is the smallest drum and the highest in pitch. It is about snare drum sized. The sixteenth note ostinato is played on the shime-daiko.

Okedo-daiko and taru are the most common types of mid-sized drums, often made from wine barrels.

The odaiko is the centerpiece of many taiko ensembles with some odaiko measuring seven feet in diameter and weighing several tons. The accented rhythm "melody" parts are played on the okedo-daiko and odaiko.

Taiko are played with sticks called bachi, which are thicker than typical drumsticks. Taiko ensembles can include as many as a dozen people or even just a soloist depending on the piece. If you wish to have the drums played live, try using a snare drum (with the snares off), a floor tom, and a concert bass drum, all tuned to higher than usual pitches. Muffling with a towel can help, too. For the bachi, have your players hold their sticks backwards to play.

(Note: If you think you recognize the name Sean Gill, well, you just might! His name appears in our masthead regularly as an engraver and production tech. But he's also a composer and performing musician. In fact, you can catch a glimpse of him on page 72 with his guitar. "Taiko Boom" is his first published work with us, and we think he did a marvelous job. Welcome, Sean.)

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.