Kotsuzumi - A small hand drum. Two heads are sewn over steel rings and laced & onto an hourglass shaped body with a
cord called the shirabeo. A second cord wraps around the first, allowing the kotsuzumi to be tuned. The body
is made from cherry wood, and is often beautifully decorated with makie (gilded patterns on lacquer). The
pitch can be varied by squeezing the rope with the left hand while striking the drum with the right. The drum is
held in the left hand and placed on the right shoulder, and the right hand sweeps up to the shoulder to hit the
head. The heads are very thin, being made from unborn calf skin where possible, and are decorated with
black lacquer. The best heads for kotsuzumi are reputed to be those that have been broken in for over 100
years. Used traditionally in Kabuki, Nagauta and Noh theater, but very rarely in kumi-daiko.
ku/kyũ - equals numeral 9 (nine).
Kuchi showa - Also kuchi shoga, kuchi shoka. These are mnemonic syllables (and system) used in learning traditional
Japanese music. One syllable will correspond with one sound/note of an instrument.
Kujira shaku - One form of the traditional shaku/sun measuring system. One shaku in the kujira system is roughly 38cm.
Kujira shaku is not used to measure taiko, the kanakyaku system is. See also kanajyaku, shaku.
Kumi-daiko - Lit. “grouped drums” A taiko ensemble. The modern style of taiko playing using many drums and
performers at the same time. The origin of this style is attributed to Mr. Daihachi Oguchi of Osuwa Daiko.
Kuri-nuki-daiko - General term for a drum that has been carved out of one log.
Kusu - Champhor wood.
Ma -- The space between two events (two notes or beats on the drum, etc). Ma is somewhat equivalent to a rest in Western
notation, but with a deeper connotation than mere absence of sound. Ma is just as important as the notes that
surround it, giving shape and contrast to the sounds that we hear. A very important concept in many traditional
Japanese arts, not just music.
Matsuri -- Festival. Is the noun form of the verb “matsuru”, meaning to worship.
Matsuribue - Festival flute. A fue that is used in a matsuri (festival) and is tuned to the requirements of that festival's
Meari - A generic term used to indicate taiko making wood that is not keyaki. Usually applied to nagado and hira-daiko.
Meari taiko are not as expensive as keyaki. This catagory can include horse chestnut, toboku, sen, and
champhor among others. Literally means “has grain”.
Men - Japanese traditional mask. Usually made of wood or paper. There are many kinds of men including those that portray
demons, animals or people. Some examples of traditional taiko styles that use masks include: Gojinjuo-daiko,
Namahage-daiko, Shishi Odori and Gombei-daiko.
Mimi -- The portion of the drum head below the tacks, where rods have been passed through slits in the skin. After the
head has been tacked on, the mimi can either be trimmed off or left on. If the mimi is trimmed off, you lose the
option to re-tension the head at a later date.
Minyo - General term for folk music.
Mitsu-domoe -- A design similar to the futatsu-domoe, but using three comma shaped marks contained in a circle rather
than two. This design is associated with the music of the right in Gagaku. It is a common design lacquered
on the heads of Odaiko. Also see futatsu-domoe; tomoe.
Miya-dai - A stand for a miya-daiko. The miya-dai has two main vertical supports and decoratively carved “wings” which
cradle the taiko. The miya-dai holds the taiko horizontally at roughly waist level.
Miya-daiko -- Shrine or temple drum. Also used as a general term for nagado-daiko.
Miyake-dai -- Also za-dai. A low stand used to hold a nagado-daiko horizontally at knee height. Used for the miyake style
of taiko playing.
Miyake-daiko -- A traditional style of taiko that involves low, lunging stances.
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