Master in traditional drumming; Born 1924; Died June 26, 2008.

DAIHACHI Oguchi was a master Japanese drummer who led the spread of the art of taiko drumming across the world, particularly in America and in his homeland. He has died aged 84.

He helped found top US taiko groups, including San Francisco Taiko Dojo, which has performed in Hollywood movies and on international tours since it was established 40 years ago.

A former jazz musician, Oguchi was one of the first to elevate the traditional folk sounds of taiko to modern music played in concert halls, not just festivals and shrines.

He led the performance of drumming and dance at the closing ceremony of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. Then 74, he appeared in US magazine adverts for the Games that read: "Get ready to rock 'n' roll."

Oguchi said at that time: "Your heart is a taiko. All people listen to a taiko rhythm dontsuku-dontsuku' in their mother's womb. It's instinct to be drawn to taiko drumming."

Charming, fiery and vivacious, Oguchi had been scheduled to perform with Kodo, a well known taiko group, later this year.

Along with Kabuki theater and ukiyoe woodblock prints, taiko is one of Japan's most popular and respected art forms in the west. Part dance and part athletics, modern taiko can be dazzlingly visual and acrobatically physical. Japanese children used to grow up hearing taiko the same way Americans might have heard blues or jazz. But until the arrival of Oguchi, taiko had given way in Japan to western music, including rock and pop.

Thanks partly to Oguchi and his followers' efforts, hundreds of taiko groups have sprung up not only throughout Japan but also in the US, Brazil, and other nations. Europe's only professional Japanese Taiko group, the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers, is based in Lanarkshire.

Oguchi also was one of the first composers of modern taiko, writing catchy tunes based on historical themes, such as samurai attacking on horses. Besides his overseas work, Oguchi also helped make taiko a household word in Japan, opening classes in various towns, attracting not only youngsters but also women who attended as they would an aerobics class.

Oguchi, who was killed after being struck by a car, is survived by his wife Saeko and two daughters, both taiko drummers.