"I don't want to work, I just wanna bang on the drum all day. I don't want to play, I just wanna bang on the drum all day."
-- Zen philosopher Todd "Runt" Rundgren
There is nothing that pumps the adrenaline more than hearing a Taiko drum troupe bring down the thunder from the Great High Plains of Heaven. Really. It's awesome. Today Richie and I spent a belated 18th wedding Anniversary listening to a bunch of really, really good drummers of all ages and both sexes rocking out. Little Tokyo was shaking, although it wasn't the kind of quake that Caltech can measure.
Richie and I are seriously debating whether to go out scouting for an old wine barrel to build a Big Bad Drum of our own. Our dear friend and brother-in-all-but-blood M. Segal is an old hand at dealing with the kind of rawhide skins that you see on a Taiko...it's the same density of skin that Congas use. However, the skins cut for Congas are way smaller than what you need for a wine barrel.
Most of the time a Taiko has two heads, one on each end. But one of the troupes today had a single-headed drum they referred to fondly as "The Cannon." It was brand new, they hadn't put the other skin on, and they now were debating whether to go the traditional route and put the other skin on, or leave it the way it is. Plus to leaving it the way it is: it's LOUD. Another plus: less rawhide would probably mean less cost. Minus to leaving it the way it is: you lose the rich thunderous resonance that two heads give a Taiko.
There is another alternative to trying to build something that probably is best left to experts: Remo Percussion has jumped into the Taiko-building business. No, their stuff isn't pretty, and it's all made from various and sundry types of plastics, but it will probably be 1.) inexpensive compared to some of the hand-crafted masterpieces we saw in use today, and 2.) pretty damn tough and not likely to need replacement of the heads anytime soon, and when the heads need replacement they will be easy to find and won't require automotive tools or soaking in water overnight or a few strong friends to do the replacement.
Anyway, it was fun, hope to experience it again sometime.