In 2017, drum and Japanese music enthusiasts were excited to learn that electronic instrument maker Roland had teamed up with internationally renowned taiko performance art group Kodō on an electronic taiko drum prototype.

Since then, Roland has worked tirelessly to improve the structure of the instrument, reduce its weight and make various other improvements. Finally, these efforts have culminated in a product which is available to the general public. Completed to coincide with the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, here is the world's first shoulder-slung katsugi-okedō 担ぎ桶胴 style electronic taiko drum, the TAIKO-1.

In Japan, taiko drums are used in traditional festivals, at shrines, taught at schools, etc. and are popular throughout the country. However, one of the challenges faced by taiko performers is that the instrument can be difficult to carry around due to the size and weight of the main body. Another issue is the loudness of the performance, which limits places to practice. Finally, depending on the environment of the venue, professional performers are sometimes unable to bring in large drums.

(A large nagadō-daiko 長胴太鼓, also known as ōdaiko 大太鼓 or miya-daiko 宮太鼓)

(A performance by Kodō)

The "TAIKO-1" faithfully reproduces the unique timbre change of Japanese drums. Using Roland's technology, a variety of sounds can be produced in response to the position and strength of the hitting surface. Beginning with the katsugi-okedō taiko, the TAIKO-1 can produce sounds of different Japanese drums, hyōshigi 拍子木 wood clappers and other percussion instruments.

Roland's proprietary mesh material on the striking surface reduces sound so you can practice without bothering anyone.

In addition, the body can be disassembled for compact storage and easy transportation. It can also be powered by rechargeable nickel-metal hydride batteries (8 x AA), allowing you to play any time and anywhere.

You can see the TAIKO-1 in action in the promotional video below:

The TAIKO-1 is expected to go on sale in Summer 2020 in a limited lot of 1,000 units. It currently has an open price tag.

For more information on the TAIKO-1, see Roland's product page on their website here.

By - Ben K.