The Koto (琴) is a traditional stringed musical instrument from Japan resembling a zither.
Koto are about 180cm long and have 13 strings that are strung tautly across 13 movable bridges along the length of the instrument. Players make base pitches by moving these bridges before playing, and three finger picks (on thumb, forefinger, and middle finger) are used to pluck the strings.
The koto was introduced to Japan in the 7th to 8th century from China (the Chinese inspiration was probably the gŭzhēng;). It was initially played in the royal court only, but this situation changed in the 17th century -- primarily because of the influence of one man: Yatsuhashi Kengyo (1614-1684).
Yatsuhashi Kengyo was a blind shamisen player who learnt koto from an "official" court player named Hosui, in defiance of the rules which then stated that koto could not be taught to blind people (or women, incidentally). Possibly because of his personal experience with these restrictions, Yatsuhashi spent the rest of his life making the koto more accessible.
He invented a new "plain tuning" (hira joushi in Japanese) to play the common peoples' songs more naturally. He composed (or is credited with composing) songs that are still irreplaceable staples of the koto repertoire today, including Rokudan and Midare. (These compositions were partly responsible for the koto becoming respected as a solo instrument in its own right.) Perhaps most importantly, his example led other non-elite, including women, to learn the koto too.
Since the Japanese music scene was made over in Western pop music's image, the koto has become less prominent (although many well-to-do young women learn the instrument to help develop an aura of "refinement" that will theoretically attract a better class of husband). However, it is still developing as an instrument; works are written for and performed on 20-stringed and bass kotos, and a new generation of young players like Yagi Michiyo are finding places for the koto in today's jazz, pop and even experimental music.
Kōtō is a special ward located in Tokyo, Japan.
Source | Copyright
Webmasters: Add your website here:
Readers: Edit |
Musical Instrument Reference
From MusicArrangers.com. Resource for teachers and students. Modern musical instruments, transposition, concert pitch and best sounding range.
Taxonomy of Musical Instruments, by Henry Doktorsi
Chart based on a 1914 scheme by Sachs and von Hornbostel classifies orchestral, folk, and electronic instruments into families. A second chart maps the free-reed family, which includes harmonicas and concertinas, supported by a scholarly history of free-reeds.
Hundreds of tabs (tablatures) for drum, bass and guitar for alternative, metal and rock music. MP3 files, links and site reviews, how to read tabs.
Musical Instrument Resources
Features historical articles and a directory.
Reiko Obata's Koto Home Page
Reiko Obata performs traditional and contemporary Japanese koto music. The site includes sounds and descriptions of the koto, shakuhachi and shamisen.
CHICO Instrument Encyclopedia
Information categorized geographically and by type. Features histories and photos.
The Institute Of Musical Instrument Technology
The main professional body covering the music industry.Â Features publication and membership details.
News from the music industry and professional recording and P.A. technology and well as keyboards and percussion product news. [English/Deutsch]
Society for Self-playing Musical Instruments
Ever since musical instruments were invented, people have attempted to turn them into self-playing instruments.
Musical Instruments of the World
Brief articles and pictures of various "primitive" instruments.
Music Gear Review
Gear news, reviews, tablature and shopping. Covers guitars, basses, drums, keyboards, PA systems, effects pedals, amplifiers, software, accessories.
Mechanical Music Digest
Moderated forum about musical instruments that play themselves. Published daily on the Internet and distributed primarily by e-mail.
Musical Instruments - The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met presents an international array of musical instruments of historical, technical, and social importance, as well as tonal and visual beauty, from accordions to zithers.
News for musicians about instruments, artists and competitions.
Descriptions of 43 instruments from India, such as the sitar, tabla and dholak.