Taiko Drumming Rudiments



Practice Techniques

After a bit of trial and tribulation over drum technique and methods for improving practice, I have come to the conclusion that as far as taiko drumming is concerned there are 3 basic types of practice that must be performed regularly:

  1. Kata - exercises and drills to improve your form and movement
  2. Accent and Control - drum rudiment practice to improve stroke and stick control
  3. Interactive - group interactive practice to improve timing and to achieve the goal of "one sound" from many drummers
Of these 3 practice regimens, "Kata" should be thought of as closer to a martial arts, dance, or athletic discipline. The focus should NOT be on how fast or hard you can hit/move, etc.. But rather how smoothly and fluidly you can perform your motion and rhythm. Only when a movement can performed correctly slowly, can it be sped up and slowed down gracefully.

The second practice regimen, which I call "Accent & Control" is much like rudimentary snare drumming. You want to focus on your beat, stroke, accent, and how cleanly you can execute them. This means that you will want to speed up and slow down your practice patterns. Play them loud, and soft without losing the rhythm. This should help you overcome the worst habits of beginners 1 - speeding up when you play louder, and slowing down when you play softer; 2 - favoring your natural "handedness," i.e. meaning your right hand is louder if you are right handed.

The last regimen, "Interactive" amounts to ensemble or band rehearsal. The goal is to learn each person's style, and how to compliment each other's playing. The "one sound" experience of having a group of people working with such smoothness that they take on the effect of sounding like a single musical being. This kind of practice improves interactive communication, which involves improving your ability to improvise. Also, the musical aspect of your performance should be polished during your group rehearsal. It is very difficult if not impossible to practice these elements of your performance by yourself.

One last tip, there are notes on some of these exercises to start playing each pattern with the right hand, and then repeat starting with the left hand. As a general rule this is the best way to practice any drill. Of course some are easier to play "backwards" than others. I remember reading a comment that Ed Shaughnessy, Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" drummer made about practicing - play every exercise 5 times as much with the left hand (for right handed people) since you have to make up for a lifetime of using your right hand more than your left.



The Rudiments



#1. doko doko - Played with a "straight" 1/8th note feeling (sometimes referred to as the "straight basic" or "straight Ji"). Usually the meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note, and 8 beats per measure. NOTE: taiko is usually counted more easily in 8, rather than 4 beats, therefore a meter of 8/8 is more natural than 4/4.

Kuchi showa: doko doko doko doko...

played: RLRLRLRL...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R do   do   do   do   do   do   do   do  
L   ko   ko   ko   ko   ko   ko   ko   ko

 

 

#2. dogo dogo - Played with a "bounce" or dotted 1/8th note feeling (sometimes referred to as the "bounce basic" or "swing basic" or the "bounce Ji" or "swing Ji"). Usually the meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note, and 8 beats per measure. This is sometimes notated as "doko" or "DON ko" so don't be confused by variations in the notation.

Kuchi showa: dogo dogo dogo dogo... (NOTE: can also be written "don ko don ko", or "doko doko")

played: RLRLRLRL...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R do   do   do   do   do   do   do   do  
L   go   go   go   go   go   go   go   go

 

 

#3. don doko don doko - The meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note. This is also used as a "Ji" or basic rhythm, often referred to as the "Horse basic" or "Galloping Horse Ji." (Note: this rudiment should also be practiced in the reverse -doko don doko don...)

Kuchi showa: don doko don doko don doko don doko...

played: R RL R RL R RL R RL...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R DON do DON do DON do DON do DON do DON do DON do DON do
L   ko   ko   ko   ko   ko   ko   ko   ko

 

#4. DORO tsuku - The meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note. The first 2 beats (in capital letters) are accented, the next 2 are played softly.

Kuchi showa: DORO tsuku DORO tsuku...

played: RLrlRLrl...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R DO   tsu   DO   tsu   DO   tsu   DO   tsu  
L   RO   ku   RO   ku   RO   ku   RO   ku

 

#5. kara doko - The meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note. The first 2 beats are played on the "fuchi," the next 2 are played on the "hara." (Note: this rudiment should also be practiced in the reverse - doko kara doko kara...)

Kuchi showa: kara doko kara doko...

played: RLRLRLRL...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R ka   do    ka   do    ka   do    ka   do   
L   ra   ko   ra   ko   ra   ko   ra   ko

 

#6. DON tsuku DON tsuku - The meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note. The first beat is accented, the next 2 are played softly. (Note: this rudiment should also be practiced in the reverse - tsuku DON tsuku DON...)

Kuchi showa: DON tsuku DON tsuku...

played: R rl R rl R rl R rl...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R DON   tsu   DON   tsu   DON   tsu   DON   tsu  
L       ku       ku       ku       ku

 

#7. DON kara DON kara - The meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note. The first beat is accented and played on the "hara," the next 2 are played softly on the "fuchi." (Note: this rudiment should also be practiced in the reverse - kara DON kara DON...).

Kuchi showa: DON kara DON kara...

played: R RL R RL...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R DON   ka   DON   ka   DON   ka   DON   ka  
L       ra       ra       ra       ra

 

#8. DON tsuku tsu KON DON tsuku tsu KON- The meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note, and 8 beats per measure. The first DON and the last KON DON are accented beats. This can also be played on the side (body) of the taiko, or on the "fuchi" as the basic for "Matsuri Daiko." When played on the side, the beats are KA kara ka KA KA...

Kuchi showa: DON tsuku tsu KON | DON tsuku tsu KON | DON tsuku tsu KON...

played: R rlr L | R rlr L | R rlr L...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R DON   tsu   tsu       DON   tsu   tsu      
L       ku     KON         ku     KON  

  The same rhythm played firmly, all beats accented:

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R DON   do   DON       DON   do   DON      
L       ko     KON         ko     KON  

 

#9. DON tsu KON tsu DON tsu KON tsu - Usually the meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note, and 8 beats per measure; but can also be counted in 4/4. The first beat on each hand is accented while the next is played softly. This should be played with a dotted note swing feel (see #2 above).

Kuchi showa: DON tsu KON tsu DON tsu KON tsu...

played: RR LL RR LL...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R DON tsu     DON tsu     DON tsu     DON tsu    
L     KON tsu     KON tsu     KON tsu     KON tsu

 

#10. (su) DON (su) KON (su) DON KON (su) - Usually the meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note, and 8 beats per measure; but can also be counted in 4/4. The (su) indicates a rest with the value of an 1/8th note. An alternate version of this phrase can be practiced by substituting DOKO DON (RLR) for the last 2 beats DON KON (RL). This rhythm is for practice playing the "off beats" (&) rather than the down beats (1,2,3..).

Kuchi showa: (su) DON (su) KON (su) DON KON (su) | (su) DON (su) KON (su) DON KON (su)...

played: (su) R (su) L (su) RL (su) | (su) R (su) L (su) RL (su)...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R (su) DON     (su) DON   (su) (su) DON     (su) DON   (su)
L     (su) KON     KON       (su) KON     KON  

 

#11-a. DON tsu KON tsu DON tsu KON DON - Usually the meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note, and 8 beats per measure; but can also be counted in 4/4. This phrase is played with a swing feel: 1e 2e 3e 4 &... The first beat on each hand is accented while the next is played softly, except for the last Left and Right, which are accented.

Kuchi showa: DON tsu KON tsu DON tsu KON DON | DON tsu KON tsu DON tsu KON DON...

played: RR LL RR L R | RR LL RR L R...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R DON tsu     DON tsu   DON DON tsu     DON tsu   DON
L     KON tsu     KON       KON tsu     KON  

 

#11-b. DON tsu KON tsu DON tsu KON tsu DON KON - Usually the meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note, and 8 beats per measure; but can also be counted in 4/4. This is a variation on #11-a. The phrase is played with a swing feel, and can be thought of as a triplet: 1(2)3 2(2)3 3(2)3 4(2)3 1 2... Where the first loud beat (DON or KON) is the "1" of each triplet, and the soft beat "tsu" is the "3" of the triplet (note: sometimes written as "zu" rather than "tsu"). The first beat on each hand is accented while the next is played softly, except for the last Right and Left, which are both accented.

Kuchi showa: DON tsu KON tsu DON tsu KON tsu DON KON | DON tsu KON tsu DON tsu KON tsu DON KON...

played: RR LL RR LL R L | RR LL RR LL R L...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R DON   tsu (1 2 3) DON   tsu (1 2 3) DON      
L (1 2 3) KON   tsu (1 2 3) KON   tsu     KON  

 

#12. DON (su) koko DON - Usually the meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note, and played with a swing feel. This is a rhythm for sukeroku style taiko, such as "Yodan Uchi," or for "Miyake" style. Substituting 'tsu" - a soft beat, for (su) - a rest, creates some interesting variations. An example of the sticking (L)R (R)LL R (see #13).

Kuchi showa: DON (su) koko DON | DON (su) koko DON...

played: R (su) LL R | R (su) LL R...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R DON   (su)       DON (su) DON   (su)       DON (su)
L       ko   ko           ko   ko    

 

#13. (ko) DON tsu koko DON - Usually the meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note, and played with a swing feel. This is a rhythm for sukeroku style taiko, and can be used in "Yodan Uchi," or for "Miyake" style with variations. The first L and R (ko DON) should be accented in this variation, only the tsu is played softly.

Kuchi showa: (ko) DON tsu koko DON ko|DON tsu koko DON ko...

played: (L)R RLL R L|R RLL R L...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R DON   tsu       DON   DON   tsu       DON  
L       ko   ko   ko       ko   ko   ko

 

#14. do KON do KON do KON do KON DON KON - Usually the meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note. The first beat is played firmly, but the emphasis is on the "KON" beat with a syncopated triplet feel: 12(3) 22(3) 32(3) 42(3) 52(3) 62(3) 7 8. This should be practiced starting with the R and L hands.

Kuchi showa: do KON do KON do KON do KON DON KON...

played: RL RL RL RL R L...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R Do 2   Do 2   Do 2   Do 2   DON      
L (1 KON 3) (1 KON 3) (1 KON 3) (1 KON 3)     KON  

 

#15-a. tsu KO KO tsu KO KO - Usually the meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note, and 8 beats per measure. The first beat is played softly with the right, followed by two on the left played firmly (on the "off beats").

Kuchi showa: tsu KO KO tsu KO KO tsu KO KO tsu KO KO...

played: RL L RL L RL L RL L...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R tsu       tsu       tsu       tsu      
L   ko   ko   ko   ko   ko   ko   ko   ko

 

#15-b. DO KON tsu DO KON tsu DO KON KON tsu DON - Usually the meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note, and 8 beats per measure. This is a variation on #15-a. The first right and left are played loud, the the last left (before the right) is soft ("tsu"). The end of the phrase adds an extra left.

Kuchi showa: DO KON tsu DO KON tsu DO KON KON tsu DON | DO KON tsu DO KON tsu DO KON KON tsu DON...

played: RL L RL L RL L L R | RL L RL L RL L L R...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R DO       DO       DO           DON  
L   KON   tsu   KON   tsu   KON   KON   tsu    

 

#16. DON (su)(su) KON (su)(su) DON (su)(su) KON (su) (su) DON (su) - Usually the meter is 8/8 with the count on each 1/8th note, and 8 beats per measure. This phrase is played with a triplet feel: 1(23) 2(23) 3(23) 4(2)3... The sticking alternates when repeated, so if you start on the right hand, you will play the next repetition starting with the left.

Kuchi showa: DON (su)(su) KON (su)(su) DON (su)(su) KON (su)(su) DON (su) | KON (su)(su) DON (su)(su) KON (su)(su) DON (su) (su) KON (su)...

played: R L R LR | L R L RL...

 
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &
R DON     (1 2 3) DON     (1 2 3) DON   (su)  
L (1 2 3) KON     (1 2 3) KON          

 


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7/14/06 by akudo3