Recording Taiko with Isaku Kageyama

Recording Taiko: Important Points

  • When a single note is played on the taiko, we’re actually hearing a combination of several sounds.  Different mics are used to capture these different sounds.
  • The Glyn Johns method outlines the role of each mic and the type of sound it captures.
  • Putting the knowledge contained in these two articles together gives us a much better understanding of how to record taiko.

Recording Taiko: Useful Resources 1/2

Would you like to find out how to record taiko?  Here are two helpful resources I’ve come across that outline the basic concepts for recording taiko.  These articles are a great place to get started, and here’s why.

The first article is from “the Kodo beat.”  This article is great because it’s specifically about recording taiko.  There are many resources out there for recording drums and percussion but very few that are specifically about taiko.

“the Kodo beat” volume 79 – winter 2007  (http://www.kodo.or.jp/archives/kodobeat/kb79.pdf)

In the article, Kodo recording engineer Takuro Susaki summarizes his process, philosophy, and lists specific pieces of hardware he uses.

Perhaps the most important part of this article in on page two, “You have to break down the sounds a drum makes into several phases.”  When a single note is played on the taiko, we’re actually hearing a combination of several sounds.

For example, there’s the sound of the stick hitting the drum head, the sound of the head vibrating, the body vibrating, the resonant head (the side you didn’t hit) vibrating, and the sound traveling around the room.  All these sounds combined make taiko sound the way we’re accustomed to hearing it.  That means it’s important to capture all these sounds when we’re recording taiko.

Recording Taiko: Useful Resources 2/2

If you’re interested in gaining more in-depth knowledge, not only about recording taiko, but recording and mixing, here is another great resource.

The Recording Revolution  (http://therecordingrevolution.com/the-glyn-johns-drum-recording-method/)

This article is on the Glyn Johns method, which was used to record the drums on many great albums including the Rolling Stones, the Who, Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, and many more.

Even though we treat the drum set as a single instrument, there are a lot of different sounds going on simultaneously.  For example, there’s the metal sound of the cymbals, the crack of the snare, the thump of the kick, and the mid range of the toms.  In many ways, it’s similar to how we’re hearing a combination of several sounds when we play a note on the taiko.

Recording Taiko: Putting the two together

It seems Mr. Susaki’s method and the Glyn Johns method are very similar.  They both use similar mics, and each mic plays a similar role – two overheads, a close mic (snare mic) to capture the attack, and a mic on the back side (kick mic) to capture the lower bass tones.

The most important part of the Glyn Johns method is getting a nice balance from the overheads.  When recording taiko, try different mics and mic placements to get a nice, full, balanced sound from the overheads.  Then, use the other two mics to reinforce the sound.

Recording Taiko: Conclusion

Much like playing the drums, recording is an art form that simply cannot be covered in a single article.  However, I hope you – whether you’re a taiko player interested in learning about the recording process, or an audio engineer scrambling to record an unfamiliar instrument – find this article helpful, and that it

serves as a starting point to get you to the next step.  If you ever have any questions, please feel free to contact me.