Gagaku and Classical Instruments

(鼓) Tsuzumi
The tsuzumi is a Japanese drum. It consists of a wooden body shaped like an hourglass, and it is taut, with two drum heads with cords that can be squeezed or released to increase or decrease the tension of the heads respectively. This mechanism allows the player to raise or lower the pitch of the drum while playing, not unlike the African talking drum.

Tsuzumis are types of drums played in Japanese traditional performing arts, such as ‘Noh’ and ‘Kabuki’. There are two kinds of Tsuzumi, Ootsuzumi and Kotsuzumi, that have almost the same structure, but whose playing styles, tone colors and vibration modes are different.

(笙)Shō and Hichiriki(篳篥)
The Shō (笙) is a Japanese free reed musical instrument.It is modeled on the Chinese sheng.It consists of 17 slender bamboo pipes, each of which is fitted in its base with a metal free reed. The instrument’s sound is said to imitate the call of a phoenix.

The Hichiriki (篳篥) is a double reed Japanese fue (flute) used as one of two main melodic instruments in Japanese gagaku music, the other being the ryūteki.The hichiriki is derived from the Chinese guan or bili, and is also related to the Korean piri.

The ryūteki (龍笛, literally “dragon flute”) is a Japanese transverse fue made of bamboo. It is used in gagaku, the Shinto classical music associated with Japan’s imperial court. The sound of the ryūteki is said to represent the dragons which ascend the skies between the heavenly lights (represented by the shō) and the people of the earth (represented by the hichiriki).

(能管) Nohkan
The Nohkan (能管) is a high pitched, Japanese bamboo transverse flute or fue (笛?). It is commonly used in traditional Imperial Noh and Kabuki theatre.The nohkan or fue’ (“flute”) is made of split and tapered strips of smoked bamboo (susudake) or burned bamboo (yakidake), glued together to form a tapering conical bore.

Meiji Shrine Dedication Gagaku Concert


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