The shōko is a small bronze gong, struck with two horn beaters, used in Japanese gagaku. It comes in three sizes. In Buddhist music and Japanese folk music the instrument is called kane/shō
The gottan is a traditional Japanese three-stringed plucked instrument considered either a relative or derivative of the sanshin, itself a relative of the shamisen. The major difference between a sanshin and a gottan is that the body of a sanshin tends to be made of a hollowed wooden cavity covered with a type of membrane, whereas the whole of a gottan – body and all – is made up of solid wood of a single type Japanese cedar; the gottan's musical repertoire is light and cheerful, including many folk songs. Like the shamisen, it was used for door-to-door musical busking, known as kadozuke; the gottan is compared to the kankara, an Okinawan instrument related to the sanshin, due to its relative inexpensiveness and ease of construction. The equivalent all-wood Okinawan instrument is the ita sanshin
The kankara or kankara sanshin is a Japanese three-stringed folk plucked instrument an improvised derivative of the Okinawan sanshin, developed in the Ryukyu Islands during the Shōwa period. Like the wooden-bodied gottan, the kankara is an inexpensive alternative to other, professional Japanese lutes – namely the sanshin and the similar, albeit larger shamisen. Unlike the gottan, the kankara was invented much and served a much different purpose historically; the kankara sanshin originates in the period following the World War II Battle of Okinawa. Okinawans, including men detained by the American military, made use of metal cans discarded by the Americans, used them as the body for improvised sanshins. A similar type of can-based sanshin was made by Japanese-Americans in internment camps in the United States during the war. Since World War II kankara have become popular as inexpensive alternatives to the sanshin or shamisen, professional sanshin or shamisen makers have begun to craft them and include them in their stores, online and in catalogues.
The kankara itself has evolved to some degree, with certain makers creating more ornate instruments with hand-painted frontal designs and the decorative wrappings that are a feature of the sanshin proper. DIY "build-your-own" kankara sanshin kits are readily available; the following is a list of basic components that make up a kankara sanshin, with Japanese phrases that refer to the English terms in sanshin and shamisen parlance: Body — An empty metal can or cylinder is used to create the body of the instrument, in lieu of the snakeskin-covered bodies typical of sanshin. Large cans containing rations given to the Okinawan people by American soldiers were used. Headstock — The headstock of the instrument is made in an unspecified way resembling that of a sanshin or shamisen, it is an extension of the neck. Neck — The long neck of the instrument is constructed from any one of an assortment of different types of wood; the neck was crafted from the leg post of a bed and was whittled down by using old worn swords or bayonets left over from the war.
Strings — The kankara being a less costly instrument than a sanshin proper, may have its strings made from any of a variety of materials. There is no normative material used for stringing. Nylon, metal wire, etc. may be used, depending upon the maker. Parachute cords were utilized for this purpose. Tuning pegs — The tuning pegs/knobs/keys used for the kankara are made in an unspecified way, sometimes resembling the long pegs characteristic of the sanshin and shamisen, at other times more akin to those found on modern and classical guitars. Ryukyuan music Sanshin Gottan Sanxian Shamisen Kōshichi Taira. Kankara sanshin: Taira Kōshichi no mita sengo Okinawa 20-nen no kiroku. Saníchi Shobō
Hotchiku, sometimes romanized as hocchiku or hochiku, is a Japanese end-blown aerophone, crafted from root sections of bamboo. After cleaning and sanding, the heavy root end of the bamboo stalk reveals many small circular knots where the roots joined the stalk; the same part of the bamboo plant is used to produce the shakuhachi but, unlike the shakuhachi, the hotchiku's inside and outside surfaces are left unlacquered, an inlay is not used in the mouthpiece. The membranes at the nodes inside a hotchiku bore are left more intact than those of a shakuhachi, though older komuso shakuhachi share this trait. Together, these characteristics make for audibly raw and organic instrument. Hotchiku are sometimes referred to as jinashi nobekan, meaning "without ji, one-piece". Hotchiku have four holes down the front for fingers and one hole on the back for the thumb of the upper hand; the instrument is capable of a range of at least two octaves, more if well crafted and in the hands of an experienced player.
Hotchiku are longer than other variations of the shakuhachi, always thicker and heavier. The techniques for playing Hotchiku are similar to shakuhachi techniques, although the sound resulting from hotchiku is more fragile and less well tuned to musical scales than are modern, refined shakuhachi; the angle of the utaguchi, or blowing edge, of a hotchiku is closer to perpendicular to the bore axis than that of a modern shakuhachi but this is a choice of the maker depending upon the size of the bamboo. Older Komuso and Myoan shakuhachi share this trait, though unlike Hotchiku they have an inlaid blowing edge; this property, along with the unlacquered bore, results in a breathy timbre. Because of its natural construction, the hotchiku is used for suizen 吹禅. Playing traditional honkyoku would only be attempted by technically skilled shakuhachi musicians since the blowing and fingering techniques required for honkyoku have to be altered considerably. Since hotchiku are not tuned to a standard musical scale, they do not accompany other instruments.
Hotchiku is a term, popularized by Watzumi Doso. Traditional Komuso shakuhachi were quite similar, with three primary differences. First, Modern Hotchiku performers such as Doso and Okuda prefer exceptionally long shakuhachi, while Komuso shakuhachi exceeded 2.1 shaku. Second, Komuso shakuhachi had an inlaid mouthpiece, which protects the blowing edge from taking on excess moisture and rotting out. Thirdly, though ji is not used, the inside is painted with urushi, a natural lacquer made from the sap of the urushi tree, used in Japan from antiquity. Like the mouthpiece inlay, this protects the bore from taking on excess moisture and contributes to the flute's longevity. Lacking urushi and a mouthpiece inlay, Hotchiku take on moisture as they are played, making the tone less stable. Though Komuso shakuhachi were not tuned to a precise scale either, they could be played together; as their hole positions were either calculated or copied from another shakuhachi, a particular honkyoku piece could be played the same way on any shakuhachi.
Hotchiku take more freedom. Distinguishing Hotchiku from shakuhachi in general can be misleading, as there are many types of shakuhachi. Komuso shakuhachi are described above. Again, since the abolition of the Fuke sect in 1871, modern shakuhachi have been made in two halves in order to tune them more but shakuhachi used for Zen practice have been "nobekan" shakuhachi since the beginning; the term "shakuhachi" encompasses all of these, including Komuso shakuhachi, should not be understood as referring only to the modern, more musical iteration of the instrument. Watazumi Doso Roshi Nishimura Koku Atsuya Okuda Close up of Hotchiku, by Kinya Sogawa Article detailing differences between hotchiku and shakuhachi, by Tom Deaver One of several messages in a thread on shakumail, describing the history of the term and concept of hotchiku, contrasted with shakuhachi
The koto is a Japanese stringed musical instrument derived from the Chinese zheng, similar to the Mongolian yatga, the Korean gayageum, the Vietnamese đàn tranh. The koto is the national instrument of Japan. Koto are about 180 centimetres length, made from kiri wood, they have 13 strings that are strung over 13 movable bridges along the width of the instrument. There is a 17-string variant. Players can adjust the string pitches by moving the white bridges before playing. To play the instrument, the strings are plucked using three finger picks; the character for koto is 箏, although 琴 is used. However, 琴 refers to another instrument, the kin. 箏, in certain contexts, is read as sō. However, many times the character 箏 is used in titles, while 琴 is used in telling the number of koto used; the term is used today, but only when differentiating the koto and other zithers. The word for an Asian zither with adjustable bridges is “So”. Variations of the instrument were created, a few of them would become the standard variations for modern day koto.
The four types of koto were all created by different subcultures, but adapted to change the playing style. The ancestor of the koto was the Chinese guzheng, it was first introduced to Japan from China in the 8th century. The first known version had five strings, which increased to seven strings.. The Japanese koto belongs to the Asian zither family that comprises the Chinese zheng, the Korean gayageum, the Vietnamese dan tranh; this variety of instrument came in two basic forms, a zither that had bridges and zithers without bridges. When the koto was first imported to Japan, the native word koto was a generic term for any and all Japanese stringed instruments. Over time the definition of koto could not describe the wide variety of these stringed instruments and so the meanings changed; the azumagoto or yamatogoto was called the wagon, the kin no koto was called the kin, the sau no koto was called the sō or koto. The modern koto originates from the gakusō used in Japanese court music, it was a popular instrument among the wealthy.
Some literary and historical records indicate that solo pieces for koto existed centuries before sōkyoku, the music of the solo koto genre, was established. According to Japanese literature, the koto was used as other extra music significance. In one part of "The Tales of Genji", Genji falls in love with a mysterious woman, who he has never seen before, after he hears her playing the koto from a distance; the Koto of the chikuso was made for the Tsukushigato tradition and only for blind men. Women teach it. With the relief of the rule, women started to playing the koto, but not the Chikuso because it was designed for the blind which led to a decline in use; the two main koto varieties still used today are the Zokuso. These two have stayed the same with the exception of material innovations like plastic and the type of strings; the Tagenso is the newest addition to the koto family, surfacing in the 19th century, it was purposefully created to access a wider range of sound and advance style of play.
The most important influence on the development of koto was Yatsuhashi Kengyo. He was a gifted blind musician from Kyoto who changed the limited selection of six songs to a brand new style of koto music which he called kumi uta. Yatsuhashi changed the Tsukushi goto tunings. Yatsuhashi Kengyo is now known as the "Father of Modern Koto". A smaller influence in the evolution of the koto is found in the inspiration of a woman named Keiko Nosaka. Keiko Nosaka, felt confined by playing a koto with just 13 strings, so she created new versions of the instrument with 20 or more strings. Japanese developments in bridgeless zithers include two-stringed koto. Around the 1920s, Goro Morita created a new version of the two-stringed koto, it was named the taishōgoto after the Taishō period. At the beginning of the Meiji Period, western music was introduced to Japan. Michio Miyagi, a blind composer and performer, is considered to have been the first Japanese composer to combine western music and traditional koto music.
Miyagi is regarded as being responsible for keeping the koto alive when traditional Japanese arts were being forgotten and replaced by Westernization. He wrote over 300 new works for the instrument before his death in a train accident at the age of 62, he invented the popular 17 string bass koto, created new playing techniques, advanced traditional forms, most increased the koto's popularity. He performed abroad and by 1928 his piece for koto and shakuhachi, Haru no Umi had been transcribed for numerous instruments. Haru no Umi is played to welcome each New Year in Japan. Since Miyagi's time, many composers such as Kimio Eto, Tadao Sawai have written and performed w
A yokobue is a Japanese transverse flute or fue. The various types include the Nōkan, Ryūteki and Shinobue; these flutes have an extra closed chamber that extends past the chin to the left shoulder and can be used as a rest the way violins are rested on the left shoulder. Bamboo musical instruments David Carradine carried a yokobue in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill movies and Bruce Lee's The Silent Flute
Sanba is a percussion musical instrument from the Okinawa Islands. The name itself means "three slabs" or "three boards/planks," and it consists of three shards ebony or other woods that are bound together by twine, it produces a variety of clicking sounds similar to that of castanets. It is played by placing the shards between the fingers of one hand, while using the other hand to flick the pieces of wood together, it can be played depending on the musical genre. It is heard in Okinawan folk music