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Monday, February 13, 2012

Feature: 24 season drums

You might want to watch the video first before proceeding with this short read. It's one of our fellow readers and avid Malaysian Taiko fan, Lee Jia Yi, performing various Taiko songs on a drum meant for a '24 Season drum' performance, which he is a part of. Underneath each tribute is the song which it comes from. Can you recognize them all? Jia Yi is one skilled drummer, isn't he?

And now you're asking what the 24 season drums are and how they bear so much resemblance to Taiko.

There's no exact translation for it in English, but the 24 season drums ('二十四节令鼓', 'er shi si jie ling gu' in Chinese), as explained briefly in the video, was created by two Malaysian Chinese people in 1988, and has its origins in the drums used for performances in harvest festivals in China. However, this particular performance remains part of Malaysian culture, and became a sweeping phenomenon overseas for cultural shows and the like. The drums resemble those used in China and Japan, and so do the sounds made (there are four possible sounds for the 24 season drum, two resemble don and two resemble kat), hence why it could be used to imitate a Taiko no Tatsujin performance.

The '24 seasons' refer to the seasons of the year. Everyone knows the four seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, while in here it is further subdivided into six seasons for each, which is called a 'solar term' in English. Each solar term reflects a different weather phenomenon that occurs within each particular season. You can read about all 24 of them in the Wikipedia link as shown above.

Without delving too much into detail, 24 season drums began in 1988 in the southernmost city of Malaysia, Johor Bahru, where one of the founders (陈再藩, Chen Chai Puan) witnessed a nine-drum performance in a Chinese dance festival and was inspired by the heroic energy and coordination by the performance. He decided to further this amazing energy generated by drum performances into 24 drums, with each drum representing one solar term. The idea gained support from many music teachers in the region, including composer Chen Hui Sui (陈徽祟) and many others in Malaysia and Singapore.

The first association for 24 season drums was set up in Johor Bahru from a mixture of drummers in Chinese music clubs, marching bands and other music societies from schools, because at the time there weren't many people dedicated to drumming as an art. Slowly, every school in Malaysia started their own associations for 24 season drums and competitions were held, further increasing its popularity. Eventually word got out and on September 2005, the first performance was held in Hunan, China, marking the return of a cultural phenomenon back to its roots.

Interesting, isn't it?


  1. My Chinese isn't as good as it used to be, please correct me if I got anything wrong~!

  2. Wow, I never knew it originated from Malaysia... Interesting.

    @pikaby What? You don't speak Chinese regularly?

    1. It's my mother tongue, just that I'm not too adept at using it except in general conversation and writing.

  3. Thanks for promoting 24 festive drum at the same time ^^

  4. MGSS Melaka - Started 24 Season Drum - Wants to get further information. Who to contact? Thank you.

  5. MGSS Melaka - Started 24 Season Drum - Wants to get further information. Who to contact? Thank you.