The taiko 太鼓 or large drum is one of the nine Narimono or instruments for the Service. The taiko is a membranophone with a body made out of wood. The taiko is barrel-shaped with the middle portion slightly curved outward. The skins of the heads are traditionally made from cow or horse hides. The taiko is sounded by striking it with bachi (drumsticks).
There are two major categories of taiko:
- "Byo-uchi daiko" (鋲撃ち太鼓, tacked-struck drum)
- "Shime-daiko" (締め太鼓, tightened drum)
Use within Tenrikyo
The Life of Oyasama describes how a taiko was played when followers passed the Oyamato Shrine on their way to the home of Chushichi Yamanaka (leading to the so-called Oyamato Shrine incident). The same text also describes a scene when yamabushi violated the Residence and slashed at hanging lanterns and two taiko with their swords.
Although the type used in the Service was a shime-daiko, in 1888, the form of the taiko was standardized as into a tsuri-daiko (suspended drum on a frame, a subcategory of byo-uchi daiko).
The taiko also happens to be the only Narimono explicitly mentioned in the Ofudesaki, in Part 16, verse 54:
- Be that as it may, the drum is being stopped by children who know nothing. Behold My regret.
Pointers when playing
The taiko is only struck at certain points throughout the Mikagura-uta.
Drum hits with the left hand (called zun in gagaku music) coincide with the upbeat or the chanpon while hits with the right hand (referred to as do beats in gagaku) coincide with the downbeats or hyoshigi strikes done in the monthly service style.
The drumsticks should be held just below the lower rim of the drum head. The drumsticks should be held loose enough to allow rebound freely after striking. Quality sounds can be obtained by hitting the drum face off center.
There are six places in the Mikagura-uta where the taiko plays the kasane-uchi or double-beat where two right-hand hits are played in succession.