For the past year I’ve been working with Kenny Endo, Kaoru Watanabe and Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten to on a new online taiko teaching resource called kaDON! I’m very excited about this venture as I feel that we are at an important moment in the growth of taiko as an art form. There has a been an incredible growth of taiko groups throughout the world. This past month the World Taiko Gathering held here in Los Angeles brought taiko groups from throughout the United States, Japan, UK, Belgium, Spain, Brazil and Argentina for an amazing weekend of workshops, networking and concerts. It was so inspiring to be around all of these people from around the world that shared the same passion for the taiko. It’s my sincerest hope that kaDON will help facilitate the further growth and development of taiko throughout the world by providing high quality instruction and repertoire to as many people as possible!
We took some new promo photos a couple of months ago this time with Kris, David, Maz and myself and I’ve uploaded them to our Press-kit. We’ve also updated our bio in preparation for the upcoming WAA conference to reflect the new organization and additions to our group. Enjoy the photos!
(notation coming soon)
The Shaga section was the most foreign for me, as the motions of brushing and scratching the skin are more akin to playing shaker than taiko. That having been said, the hours spent touching the skin and playing so gently have really helped me bond with the instrument. I’m extremely careful about how I treat my drum’s one pristine head. In the end the techniques are not quite as esoteric as expected; I now love to use scratching motions on odaiko as well.
The independence required in this section was one of the most technically challenging parts of the piece for me, and I spent many hours going very slowly figuring out each successive sound. I practiced mainly on my my desk and on my notebook while riding the bus. Shaga is amenable to practice anywhere.
A note of caution. If your drum skin is not perfect and has cracks or flakes in the first layer of the skin (called the “gin”), you can damage the skin further by improper technique. A fingernail can easily get under a crack and flake off the gin. Watch the video closely for how I use different fingernails in different directions. Practice slowly and carefully, especially when using actual skin.
(notation coming soon)
Teko is one of my favorite extended techniques from Radiddlepa. By simply changing the location of a “side-stick” hit (with the left hand in the video), we can get a “double strike”. The first strike is the bachi coming down flat on the skin. Because the hand is overhanging the side of the drum, the bachi pivots on the body of the shime and the butt of the bachi comes off the skin. When the wrist raises again, the butt comes into contact with the skin again, creating our second strike. The technique allows for remarkably fast and intricate rhythms.
Once we’ve exhausted our practice options and patience for sticking and tones, we can focus on the challenge of accenting. I worked through each pattern of the 1eau Drill (see 30 Days page 26, previously the “1234 Drill”) over a period of a few weeks. Once I was able to play the 1eau Drill while maintaining radiddlepa sticking, I gave myself random challenge patterns of accented and and quiet/ghosted notes. I drew these patterns from “Edobayashi”-style rhythms. I’m still working on this challenge.
(Notation coming soon)
The Outro section requires only the tonal and dynamics skills learned thus far. The left hand is accenting the “1″, alternating between the drum center and the drum body, while the right hand switches between the drum body, skin edge (“de”), drum body, and rope. The right hand is switching every three counts for an interesting relationship between the hands.
Once your interest in practicing the basic sticking starts to wane, add the challenge of changing the tone of each hand. Move the left hand to a different sound and stay there until you feel settled. Then find a new tone. Then try the right hand. Then move individual hits or pairs of hits to new tones. The goal is to gradually add complexity in order to make the sticking challenging again. When your hands loose the LRRL RLLR sticking, slow down or stay on that challenge until you get it figured out again. Then search for the next glitch. I call this process “truffle hunting” and it can last for months.
The whole of the composition Radiddlepa is based on the “radiddlepa” rudiment, a variation of the paradiddle. I lead with the left hand, so the fundamental sticking for almost every pattern of the piece is simply:
A logical starting point for learning the piece is to practice this sticking until it can be played at about 120bpm. Eventually we’ll need to play at about 150 for the Outro, so going further is great if possible. In my experience, however, my speed increased as I added the subsequent layers of complication (tone, dynamics, etc), so as soon as boredom with the basic sticking sinks in, move on!