What the hecking heck is this?
It’s the Roland TAIKO-1 and it is about 10% brilliant and 90% bullshit.
I was a taiko performer for a couple of years, so let me first mention the things I like about this before I tear it to shreds:
- It looks kinda cool (if you’re unconcerned with tradition)
- It’s light-ish and it disassembles for transport.
- You can use it for practice with headphones, IF you want to practice katsugi okedo.
- Built-in ji is better than a metronome… if you want to be backed up by a robot playing a horse beat, you can.
- The shime-daiko sample set sounds okayish.
- Could be neat for one or two performers during an interlude, or for parades or Eisa performances I guess, or for a single novelty piece by a taiko group. IF the volume and battery situation is up to the task.
And now the hatey bits:
- This is a katsugi okedo in style. It is useless if you want to practice or perform chu-daiko, shime-daiko, or oodaiko parts or technique.
- Each type of drum, type of stand, and style of playing requires different physical technique. Each taiko piece has its own choreography which is a vital part of the art form (some even say it’s more important than rhythm and sound). This is one drum played in one style, which happens to sound sort of like other drums. The way this is designed, I’m not even sure it can be placed on any kind of stand.
- Would you like to watch a symphony orchestra where everyone is playing electric violins, except some of them sound more or less like cellos or oboes or French horns or timpani?
- Would you rather go to a Japanese festival and watch a bunch of people in traditional costume playing a variety of beautiful, full-sized polished wooden drums, hand-built in the traditional manner, with fancy metal kan (the medallion handles) and proper horsehide heads tacked on in that distinctive pattern, where one of the drums is a 250-800 pound monstrosity that looms over its performer… or a bunch of electronic instruments with lightweight metal frames and fabric heads?
- The chu-daiko sound in the video sounds synthetic to me. The shime-daiko is okay. The chappa samples are a disgrace, and there is no way all the varied techniques of chappa playing can be done with a drum.
- Real taiko is like thunder. It’s extremely physical. You feel it throughout your body, especially in your chest cavity. In person or in a really good recording, you hear the crack of the hinoki (cypress, awesomely fragrant) bachi on the drum head as well as the deep boom. When in group rehearsals you’re supposed to wear hearing protection. I’m going to guess the sound of these is a relative disappointment in terms of physical presence.
- Likewise, the feel can’t possibly be right for anything that’s not a katsugi part. There is a very physical feel to the movement and the way the bachi rebounds from the skin, which is different for different styles of drums and bachi, and it deeply affects the player’s expressive playing as well as dynamics and timing. It may even feel wrong compared to a real katsugi as far as that goes.
Now, I’m more of an electronic music nerd than I am a former taiko player, so I still think it’s kind of got neat aspects. And if someone gave me one, I would play it. But I don’t want to see a taiko group performing with just these things, ugh ugh ugh gah no.