“Taiko” is the Japanese word for “big drum,” and is now also used in North America to describe a style of group performance derived from traditional Japanese drumming and martial arts-inspired movement. What distinguishes contemporary from traditional Japanese taiko drumming is a focus on the taiko as the primary instrument, as opposed to a background time keeper. Most taiko ensembles tend to combine drums of various sizes and configurations with other Japanese percussion and flutes. Though taiko drums have been in Japan for centuries, the style of taiko best known today has a relatively short history, beginning in 1951 with Daihachi Oguchi (1924-2008) and garnering international attention in the 70s and 80s through groups such as Ondekoza and Kodo. North American taiko initially developed in Japanese-American and Japanese-Canadian communities particularly among the younger Sansei, or third generation, many of whom were searching for ways to connect with their Japanese ancestry. It has since spread beyond Japanese- and Asian-American communities, with particularly strong growth on college campuses.
Join Mu Daiko Artistic Director Jennifer Weir, Mu Daiko artists Susan Tanabe and Michiko Buchanan, and UMN scholars Josephine Lee, Teresa Swartz, and Cindy Garcia to examine the cultural, historical, and artistic development and impact of Japanese taiko drumming. Meet the drums and drummers up close at 3:15, enjoy conversation and performance, and stay for a Taiko workshop at 5.
Background information on taiko: Overview and History, Drumming Asian America, Taiko Crash Course.