After having experience playing Rokudan no Shirabe, Rokudan is very different from modern Japanese koto pieces. Rokudan is a very old traditional Japanese Koto piece, and does not have a specific melody. Rokudan starts off very slow, and gradually gets faster. One of the main techniques in Rokudan, is the famous Koto technique “Shan”. “Shan” involves striking two strings at the same time once. Another very similar technique which utilizes “Shan” is “Sha-Sha”. “Sha-Sha” is a technique which involves a “Shan” to be repeatedly played quickly. Both of these technique are used and clearly heard in the piece.
Rokudan no Shirabe uses a very traditional standard Japanese Koto tuning, Hirajoshi. Hiragoshi’s scale consists of D:G:A:Bb:Eb. This tuning is the standard Koto tuning, and has been around for many many years, and is used in many Koto pieces. I think this tuning is different compared to European and Western tunings. Hirajoshi is low, and has a “dark” feeling to it.
Rokudan no Shirabe is a very old traditional Japanese Koto piece composed by Yatsuhashi Kengyo. Midare and Rokudan both are very similar in techniques. Both Midare and Rokudan start off really slow, then gradually get faster. Midare and Rokudan both feature the same techniques, “Shan” and “Sha-Sha”. Both pieces are very famous, and two of many songs, composed by Yatsuhashi Kengyo’s.
After watching a performance composed with the Japanese zither (Koto), Shamisen and lastly, the Japanese flute (Shakuhachi), I decided the Koto was the instrument I liked the most. The sound of the Koto was more gentle compared to the Shamisen, due to the Shamisen strings having contact with the neck, making a “izzing” sound. The sound of the Koto is clearer and gentler, unlike the Shamisen. I myself play the Koto, and love the sound and feel when playing. I find it more comfortable kneeling, instead of having an instrument on my lap.
During the performance, I noticed Bruce (Shakuhachi player) used many techniques using the mouth and strength of air to express different sounds and effects. I thought this was really interesting to watch, and surprised me that such sound can be made.
In my opinion, Eghigo Jishi was the nicest song out of all performed. ”Echigo-Jishi” was composed in 1811 by Kineya Rokuzaemon IX, a Kabuki player/composer. Echigo was the part of Japan now known as Niigata. The “lion” refers to a “lion dance” of the region. The combination of the Koto, Shamisen and Shakuhachi was really creative and beautiful. I liked the sound and parts of each instrument, and thought it went well together. The scale of each instrument made it Japanese, due to the Koto having a low scale. I also thought the Shakuhachi’s part was very Japanese, because it did not have one specific melody, but many different measures.
A variety of musical scales are used in traditional Japanese music. While a twelve-tone Chinese scale has influenced Japanese music since the Heian period, in practice Japanese traditional music is often based on pentatonic or heptatonic scales.
The pentatonic musical scale is a combination of many other scales, including major second, minor second, major third, minor second, and major third.
Above is my video of me playing specific parts of Taka.
I think my recording went well, however when notes are played hard, a strange “buzz” occurs. I think the microphone picked up the sound melody quite well. The parts I think I need to improve would be changing from notes, 11 and 12 and then to 5. I find this hard, but also to continue the tempo.