What makes Rokudan sound Japanese?

In music class on monday April 15th we looked further into “what makes  Japanese music sound Japanese?”.

We were all given a sheet to look at that had the three main Koto tunings, Hirajyōshi, Gaku-joshi and Nogijyōshi. On the sheet was also a piece of music named “Rokudan”. This piece uses the common Japanese tuning scale, Hirajyōshi. (D  G  A  B♭ D  E♭ G  A  B♭ D  E♭ G  A) This tuning is used in a lot of Japanese music it is also a pretty old scale, was a very common tuning before and now too.

This is the music for Rokudan











I think the reason for Rokudan to sound Japanese is mainly because of the tuning Hirajyōshi. The tuning Hirajyōshi has a dark kind of feeling or sound that makes it sound japanese. Not just the tuning makes it sound Japanese but also the techniques used to play this piece, for example the Kororin, Shan, Sha Sha and Ato Oshi. These techniques won’t apear when playing the Chinese Guzheng/Zither, there are techniques that are similar but the way of playing are different. Also the pattern these techniques are played makes this piece sound Japanese like repeating the Sha Sha and Shan. The pace, and the press like Ato Oshi makes the piece have a Japanese feeling to it.

Overall this is what I think makes Rokudan sound Japanese . This is a video our music teacher sent us, click on this link to hear how this piece “Rokudan” sounds like.

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