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.
For the start of our new unit in music class we watched a presentation on japanese music. Our unit question is “What makes music sound like it belongs to a particular part of the world?”. In the presentation our japanese music teacher and a shakuhachi player performed a few songs for us.
I liked all instruments but I think that my favorite is the Koto. I liked the koto the best because it had so much interesting techniques that I want to learn and the music it played was beautiful. When the Shakuhachi player asked one person to go up and try the Shakuhachi I realized that blowing it wasn’t as easy as it looks, that surprised me because I just thought you just blow into it but there is a lot of techniques when blowing so that was pretty interesting.
This are the songs that were performed:
Classical koto/shamisen/shakuhachi trio – Eghigo Jishi
Shakuhachi solo – Honkyoku
Koto/shakuhachi duet – Kaze no Uta (Song of the Wind)
Koto solo – Gensokyoku (Fantasy)
Koto/shakuhachi duet – Deep Forest
Out of all these songs I liked the last one “Deep forest” the most and also “Kaze no Uta”. I liked Deep forest because I liked the tuning of the koto and how it was played. With the Koto and Shakuhachi duet in this song sounded really peaceful and made a feeling of the forest. I also liked the “Kaze no Uta” because the instruments made it really sound like the wind and the Shakuhachi techniques used in this song were really windy and interesting. The song also made we feel the wind and it’s emotions or mood.
The tuning made it sound japanese but also the techniques and how the instrument is played. The instruments came from China but they really changed through time in Japan. The Shamisen looks a lot like the Chinese instrument “Erhu” but bigger and played differently, but both have a long thin neck that you slide your fingers up and down on. Overall I enjoyed the music and learned a few things and thank you to the Shakuhachi player for coming in and performing for us.
We have just started to learn a new song named Taka. I am playing Koto 2 in this song with 6 other people. This is a video of me practicing some parts of the song. I think that the recording did not go as well as I was just normally practicing because I was videoing and it made it kind of hard to concentrate. It is also hard to play a long part at once when videoing because if you make one or two big mistakes towards the end or middle you need to re-start videoing again. I would love to see the difference when we become good at playing this song and this practice video.
I know I am not very good now but I will improve after lots more practice.