Taiko Glossary

Atarigane

A hand gong often used to keep time.  It is played held in the hand or suspended by a cord called a fusa and struck with a deer horn mallet called the shumoku.  Also known as a chan-chiki. 

Bachi

General term for drum sticks.

Chappa

Small hand cymbals, also called tebyoshi.

Chochin

A paper lantern used for decoration by some taiko groups.

Chu-daiko-

General term for a medium-sized taiko roughly two feet in diameter.

Dai

General term used for a taiko stand.  Also used as a suffix in a compound word indicating the style of stand: e.g. shikaku-dai, a stand of square shape.

-daiko

Suffix used to indicate a type of drum, a taiko group, or a style of taiko playing in a compound word. The “t” in taiko is changed to “d” when used in a conjunction with another word.

Do

“The Way.”  Indicated a path of learning.

Dojo

General term for a place of study. Literally it means “the place of the Way.”

Don

Notation for a single stroke on the taiko. It can also be combined as Dogo, Doro, DoDon, etc. for multiple strokes.

Fue

General term for a blown instrument including nohkan, shakuhashi and sho.  Fue is widely used to refer to a transverse (horizontal) bamboo.

Gassho

Placing both hands together as a sign of highest respect and courtesy.  Holding hands together in gassho symbolizes harmony.

Hachimaki

Headband often worn during festivals or by some taiko groups.

Happi

Short kimono-like coat often used in festivals and performances.

Hara

Belly.  It’s thought to be the location of the Ki energy in humans.  Also refers to the center of the drumhead.

Hira-daiko

General term for a drum wider than it is deep, (Lit. “flat drum”) with nailed heads, and carved from a single block of wood.

Hoko

Buddhist term for Dharma drum or taiko.

Hora

General term for a large shell used as a trumpet-type instrument.  A horagai is a Pacific Triton or a Shank Shell, while hora may mean a conch shell.

Horaku

Buddhist term for combining the Dharma teachings with the enjoyment of music, and may be translated to “Dharma Entertainment.”

Hyooshigi

Wooden blocks used as clappers, similar to Latin clave, but struck at the tips rather that in the middle of the block.

Jikata

Someone who plays the jiuchi or base beat rhythm.

Jiuchi

Also called ji, a base beat.  Usually a simple double beat (do ko) or a swing beat (don go).

Josuke

General term for medium sized taiko.  Also referred to as chu-daiko.

Ka

Striking the wood edge of the taiko. It can also be combined as Kara, Kaka, etc. for multiple strokes.

Kakegoe

Shouts, used to accent the music, signal shifts in rhythm and to encourage other performers. Common kakegoe are:  Sho! Hai! Yo! Iyo! Sore! Ha! Korakora!

Kamae

Player’s ready position before playing the taiko.

Kane

General term for a metal gong or large bell.

Kata

Form or style.

Ki

The body’s energy or spirit, and it is located in the belly.

Kiai

Shout used to channel ki.

Ko-daiko

General term for a small taiko about one foot in diameter.

Koshi

Hips.

Koto

Japanese zither usually made with 13 strings.

Kushi shoka

Also known as kuchi shoga, or kushi showa. The memnonic syllables and system used in learning traditional Japanese music.  One syllable will correspond with one sound/note of an instrument, such as Don, Ka and Su.

Kumi-daiko

A taiko ensemble literally meaning “grouped drums”. The modern style of taiko playing that uses many drums and performers at the same time.

Ma

Space.  It is the space between two notes or beats on the taiko. It is somewhat equivalent to a rest in Western notation.

Matsuri

General term for any type of festival.

Obi

Sash or belt used to hold a kimono or happi closed.

Odaiko

General term for a taiko larger than 84 cm in diameter.  It can refer to a large taiko of any style.

Odori

General term for Japanese dance.

Okedo-daiko

General term for drums made form a barrel-stave construction, not to be confused with the North American wine barrel taiko.  The heads are usually stitched over steel rings and then laced to the body with a rope, similar to the shime-daiko.  The tone of the drum can be changed by the rope tension.

Omikoshi

Portable Shinto shrine carried about on the shoulders of festival participants.

Oroshi

Drum pattern of increasing rapid beats, often leading into a drum roll.

Ouchi

Someone who plays the main rhythm.

Shakuhachi

End-blown flute made of bamboo.

Shime-daiko

General term for a rope-tensioned drum (now sometimes bolt or turnbuckle tensioned). Shime-daiko has two heads, which are sewn over steel rings and laced to a kuri-nuki body with a rope called the shirabeo.

Shishi Mai

Traditional Lion dance.

Su

Musical rest, unplayed beat.  A single rest/space between two beats would be written don (su) don.

Tabi

Split toed socks worn with Japanese dress, such as kimono.  Tabi with rubber soles are known as jika-tabi.

Taiko

General term for Japanese drums.

Togen Daiko

Name of the Oxnard Buddhist Temple taiko group.  Togen means “Heavenly Place” and daiko means “drum.”

Tsuku

Lightly struck beat or a beat struck at the outer edge of the drumhead.

Uchiwa-daiko

Handheld taiko that has the skin stretched and stitched over a hoop and attached to a handle. It literally means a “fan drum.”

Uta

General term for singing.

Yatai

Festival float pulled by festival participants and sometimes carries musicians.

Zori

Traditional Japanese thonged sandals similar in design to the ubiquitous “flip-flops.”