Children of the Drum

Rin Ren Bon’Odori by Ryuushiro

In feudal Japan, taiko were often used to motivate troops, call out orders or announcements, and set a marching pace; marches were usually set to six paces per beat of the drum. During the 16th-century Warring States period, specific drum calls were used to communicate orders for retreating and advancing. Other rhythms and techniques were detailed in period texts. According to the war chronicle Gunji Yoshū, nine sets of five beats would summon an ally to battle, while nine sets of three beats, sped up three or four times, was the call to advance and pursue an enemy. Folklore from the 16th century on the legendary 6th-century Emperor Keitai offers a story that he obtained a large drum from China, which he named Senjin-daiko (線陣太鼓 “front drum”). The Emperor was thought to have used it to both encourage his own army and intimidate his enemies.


Shingen – O-Daiko

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