The Musical Ludo Mix of Taiko no Tatsujin

Costantino Oliva


This paper analyzes the Taiko no Tatsujin (Bandai Namco 2001/ 2018) franchise and the musical literacy it conveys. While previous accounts of game musical literacy have focused on the competence necessary to interpret references across media (van Elferen 2016), this paper expands on the concept, and includes the discussion of live performances and oral traditions.

The musical compositions included in Taiko no Tatsujin pertain to the Japanese phenomenon of media convergence known as media mix (Steinberg 2012), as they have been previously popularized by anime and geemu ongaku (or game music) (Yamakami and Barbosa 2015). However, the musical participation initiated extends its references to the practice of Japanese taiko drumming, a largely oral, non-notated musical form, which cannot be reduced to a musical repertoire. The resulting, emerging ludo mix, a form of media mix centered around digital games (Blom 2019; Bjarnason 2019; Picard and Pelletier-Gagnon 2015; Steinberg 2015), presents original musical characteristics, representing and synthesizing a dynamic musical culture.

The conclusions show that game musical literacy is based, not only on competence with previous media forms, but also with various different forms of participation in musical performances, or musicking (Small 1998), which concur in constructing game musical literacy. The musical side of the ludo mix can therefore be expressed through a large variety of musical practices.


Music; Taiko no Tatsujin; media mix; ludo mix; musicking

Full Text:


Published by the Digital Games Research Association.