Recording Studio: In traditional Japanese recording studio music, there are three general types of instruments – percussion instruments, stringed instruments and wind instruments, mostly flutes. There is a huge range of instruments beyond the scope of this page, ranging from bells used in Buddhist ceremonies to various kinds of drums used in gagaku (Imperial court music).
In the last few years, there have been a growing number of artists who have been bringing these instruments to younger audiences. Taiko group Kodo and young shamisen duo the Yoshida Brothers are two well-known examples of artists who give the old instruments new life and energy, and have been very successful abroad.
Recording Studio: Japanese Drums
There are many large Japanese drums, or taiko. Most have two membranes which are nailed or laced and are struck with sticks. The most dramatic is the Odaiko (big drum). The physical energy and sheer excitement of an Odaiko performance is an integral part of many Japanese matsuri (festivals). Perhaps because they see this all the time, most Japanese people don’t get particularly excited by taiko performance groups like Kodo, while foreign audiences are enthralled by them. Each year, Kodo host Earth Celebration, a festival of taiko drumming, international music and performance art in their home base on Sado Island. Many people come to Japan from around the world to enjoy the festival and it is certainly a highlight of the Japanese cultural calendar. Kodo also tour extensively abroad every year.
The hourglass-shaped recording studio tsuzumi was introduced from the Asian continent around the 7th century and the name is derived from Sanskrit. Two varieties, the smaller kotsuzumi and the larger otsuzumi are used in both noh and kabuki performances. The kotsuzumi is held on the right shoulder and the player alters the tone by squeezing the laces. The otsuzumi is held on the left thigh. Like all other traditional arts in Japan, there are several schools of tsuzumi.