Friday, April 24, 2009

Taiko drills, Part 31 ATARIGANE


This week's drill is by request from a reader. Have one of your own? Mention it to me! While I'm no master, I like sharing if I know something about it.

Focus: Form
Watch for:
1. When playing the basic "chan" & "chi" as explained in the beginning, the hand holding the bachi (in my case, the right) should not be moving from side to side or forward and back in relation to your body. Focus on moving the bachi up and down--it's the left hand that changes to alter your hitting spot.
2. Try to make your hitting spots consistent. Different areas of the bell will sound different.

Alright, as you may have guessed, I'm going to focus on atarigane, a.k.a. chan chiki. When playing chan chiki you want to hold it in your weak hand like this:

Step 1:

Step 2:

Place thumb underneath the little tab, snugly.

Step 3:

Complete the grip by wrapping the pinky and ring fingers on the opposite side, above the tab.
You'll notice that my index and middle fingers are pressing flat against the bell.

Here's how you hold the bachi. It's very similar to holding bachi for shime daiko:

To play "chi chan", the first step is to hold the bell so your palm is inward, perpendicular to the floor and fingers pressing on the bell. Let's call this "starting position." With a relaxed, controlled wrist, hit the center of the bottom rim (chi). Next, pull those two fingers away from the bell rotating the wrist outward. Hit the center of the bell once (chan).
Check out the demo:

Notice that bringing the fingers back to rest on the bell and rotating the hand inward should not occur at the same time as you strike "chi". You need to get those fingers and the bell in place before the stick strikes. Otherwise, it's gonna sound, well... not so good.

Okay, that's it! If you're a true beginner, don't even think about using the bachi yet. Start out by moving the hand that's holding the bell back and forth between the two positions. Vocalize "chan" and "chi", making sure you're returning to what I call "starting position" above before it's time to say "chi!"

Let me know if you have questions and I'll add a little more next week!

Extension/Alternate drill:
Please continue with the roll drill from last week. I'm sure you've figured this out by now if you've been reading every week, but you can always (and should always!) flip the drill around to start with the left hand. Make sure you're challenging yourself with speed!


  1. A timely post for me. I was just about to buy an atarigane at Asano yesterday, but the shop closed just before I got there. We have one already, actually, but we left it in Michigan. It would be nice to have a little set of them, though. They can really add a lot to a song.

  2. I agree that, if played well, chan chiki can really make a song come together. But, I've also seen my share of performances where it actually distracts from the song. Anyway, yes, spend that Japan stimulus package on taiko stuff--my plan as well!

  3. I just bought one from Asano today. Thanks for the demo because although I know the sound it should make, I may have been not using correct technique. -Eric from TORA

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