Sansa-daiko dancers

Online Tutorial

To help out the many people who are interested in learning taiko but have no access to an instructor, Rolling Thunder presents an Online Tutorial. This tutorial will teach you the rhythm of Kitakami Sansa-daiko, a festival piece from the city of Kitakami in Iwate prefecture.

About the Tutorial

Sansa-daiko Tutorial

Please also take a look at the information in Learning Taiko.



About The Tutorial

Learning taiko is an process best carried out with a competent instructor. There are many aspects beyond the rhythms that are important to taiko as an art, and they are difficult to properly learn without the guidance of a teacher. Most of these aspects have to do with the spirit, respect and approach of the player to the drums, the other players and to the art form itself. To merely play the rhythms, would be to to miss the essence of the art.

To help introduce people to some of the visual aspects of taiko, Rolling Thunder has also produced the Introduction to Taiko video tape. This tape, the first of its kind in English, has an overview of the different drum types, examples of stances, how to hold the bachi, instruction of basic rhythms, and instructions on how to tension a shime-daiko. The tape also includes short examples of many different playing styles. Since the Online Tutorial does not include any information on stances or movement, the Introduction to Taiko video is an excellent companion to the tutorial.


Sansa-daiko Tutorial

Sansa-daiko is a traditional festival piece from Iwate Prefecture. While the underlying rhythm is similar to many "Matsuri" (festival) pieces all over Japan, Sansa-daiko has a unique variation to call its own. There are also several regional variations throughout Iwate. Sansa-daiko is often played with a special mid-size Sansa style okedo hung from the neck and shoulders of the drummer. This allows the drummer to dance while playing. Morioka, the capital of Iwate, has a wonderful festival each summer where the main street is filled with a seemingly endless parade of dancing Sansa-daiko drummers. The image above is from Morioka's Sansa-Matsuri.

This particular variation of Sansa-daiko is from Kitakami's Geino Matsuri. There are three sections to the piece: The first section is played twice, the second section is played once, and the third section is played three times. There is vocal part that is chanted, but other than marking down the syllables on the notation, this tutorial will not deal with it. The choreography is also beyond the scope of this tutorial.

Each note is marked R for right hand, or L for left hand.