As promised last week, here are my findings on the Shamisen.
“The shamisen or samisen (三味線?, literally “three strings”), also called sangen (三絃?, literally “three strings”), is a three-stringed, Japanese musical instrument played with a plectrum called a bachi.”
“The shamisen is a plucked stringed instrument. Its construction follows a model similar to that of a guitar or a banjo, with a neck and strings stretched across a resonating body. The neck of the shamisen is fretless and slimmer than that of a guitar or banjo. The body, called the dō (胴?), resembles a drum, having a hollow body that is taut front and back with skin, in the manner of a banjo.” -Wikipedia
“The Japanese shamisen originated from the Chinese instrument sanxian (Chinese: 三弦). The sanxianwas introduced through the Ryūkyū Kingdom (Okinawa) in the 16th century, where it developed into the Okinawan instrument sanshin (三線) from which the shamisen ultimately derives. It is believed that the ancestor of the shamisen was introduced in the 16th century at port Sakai near Osaka.
The shamisen can be played solo or with other shamisen, in ensembles with other Japanese instruments, with singing such as nagauta, or as an accompaniment to drama, notably kabuki and bunraku. Both men and women traditionally played the shamisen.” -Wikipedia
You couldn’t watch most Samurai era movies without hearing or seeing one. They have a very distinct sound that emotes a feeling of tradition and ethnicity Japan is known for. However, everyone who is playing this traditional instrument is not exactly staying with tradition.
For some reason “Riverdance” comes to mind when watching this video.
I don’t know why… Call me weird.
My wife does.
Anyway check out this video about the Shamisen. I watching love the “BEGIN Japanology” series when I can catch it.
- Japan’s Rolling Thunder: The Taiko Drum (americanhikikomorifilm.wordpress.com)
- Masters of Traditional Japanese Instruments with Kenny Endo and Hiromitsu Agatsuma in New York (podilatokafe.wordpress.com)
- Breaking News from Japan Musical Instruments Trade Fair Yokohama Hammond Suzuki Stand (hammondcast.typepad.com)