On April 11th, our Koto teachers, Mr. Patterson and Ms. Miyama did a presentation about Japanese Music with Mr. Patterson’s friend, Mr. Huebner. They talked about how different Japanese music was to Western music and played who pieces together. The Koto was played by Mr. Patterson and Ms. Miyama, Shakuhachi played by Mr. Huebner, and Shamisen played by Mr. Patterson.
Out of 3 instruments, Koto, Shamisen, and the Shakuhachi, my favorite instrument was the Shakuhachi. First of all, I didn’t know what was Shakuhachi until I saw the instrument itself so it was completely new to me which hooked me up. I was really amazed how there were more than 5 types of Shakuhachis there were. Some were long, short, and they sounded all differently. For example the Koto has less types so it might mean that you can’t express the sounds in different ways as much as the Shakuhachi. At the same time, the Shakuhachi only has 5 finger holes while the Koto has 13 strings. But Mr. Huebner told us how to change the sounds using blowing techniques and the placing of the lips. He demonstrated how the sound changed without using his fingers, but just using his lips and air. I learned that the closer the mouthpiece is to your mouth, the deeper the sound will be. The farther away it is played, the higher the pitch will be. These sound changes can be also done in Koto by doing a press. One of the cool features that the Shakuhachi has is that the sound sounds like the wind. So it can express the music well according to the genre.
Out of all the pieces they played, my favorite song was the Kaze No Uta. This song really matched to the Shakuhachi because it expressed the different types of wind and the tone of the wind. Some parts were played strongly and some were soft. The range of strong and soft were big so the dynamics were great. By listening to this piece, I learned that the Shakuhachi can be rhythmical.
To me, Japanese music sounds like the feelings are expressed in sound. The change of the tone is the changes of the feeling of a person or a living animal. For example when the music is played soft, it means that the person is calm and relaxed. But when the music is played loudly and strongly, the person is mad or in a bad situation. Japanese music lets me imagine what the story is. Japanese music always has a background to it.