The shakuhachi is a kind of bamboo recorder with a blowing edge and four fingerholes; it has a generally appealing mellow tone. It is naturally curved, long, thick, low-pitched, and resonant. It naturally produces the notes of D, F, G, A, D.
There are four types of biwa, or bass lutes: Gaku-biwa, Heike-biwa, moso-biwa, and Satsuma-biwa. The Heike-biwa is smaller than the Gaku-biwa; it has four strings and 5 frets. The moso-biwa is the smallest of the bass lutes; it also has five frets and four strings. The Satsuma-biwa's body is deeply rounded while the other bodies are flat, and it has four frets; it has four frets and four strings (Harich-Schneider 513-515).
The shamisen is plucked lute introduced to Japan between 1558 and 1570. It has a small square body covered by catskin, and a long unfretted neck with three strings. The strings are struck by a kind of sharp nail, or in other styles of playing the bare finger. It was the favored instrument of the geisha (Harich-Schneider 516).
Japan's only bowed instrument is the kokyu. China introduced it at the beginning of the eighteenth century. It has a long straight neck with generally three strings on a small square body. The average length is about 70 centimeters. The bow hair is loose and is tightened in various ways during play.
Tags: Music Culture