Are you interested in learning the koto or shamisen? A great way to get started is to participate in these intensive workshops by Japanese senior master performer Yoko Hiraoka. Ms. Hiraoka has performed, recorded, and taught for over 30 years. For information and registration:
New Koto School
The Boston Koto Academy opened in February, 2005. The address is 11 Cliff Street, Arlington MA 02476. The instructor is Ryuko Mizutani who studied at the NHK Traditional Academy and the Japan Sawai Koto Academy as a special research student of Tadao and Kazue Sawai. Contact info: , 781-648-4473.
Johnson, Henry (2004). The Koto. Amsterdam: Hotei Publishing.
"The Koto: A Traditional Instrument In Contemporary Japan is a thorough, illustrated history of a traditional stringed Japanese instrument. The text goes into depth on the koto's useage throughout history, techniques for tuning and playing it, its performance today, methods for constructing individual instruments as works of art, and much more. A comprehensive resource covering just about anything and everything there is to know about the haunting melodies that continue to be played on this remarkable instrument, up to the modern day." Midwest Book Review.
Wade, Bonnie C. (2004).
Music in Japan: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture.
Oxford University Press.
"...Music in Japan offers a vivid introduction to the music of contemporary Japan, a nation in which traditional, Western, and popular music thrive side by side. Drawing on more than forty years of experience, author Bonnie C. Wade focuses on three themes throughout the book and in the musical selections on the accompanying CD. She begins by exploring how music in Japan has been profoundly affected by interface with both the Western (Europe and the Americas) and Asian (continental and island) cultural spheres. Wade then shows how Japan's thriving popular music industry is also a modern form of a historically important facet of Japanese musical culture: the process of gradual popularization, in which a local or a group's music eventually becomes accessible to a broader range of people. She goes on to consider the intertextuality of Japanese music: how familiar themes, musical sounds, and structures have been maintained and transformed across the various traditions of Japanese performing arts over time. Music in Japan is enhanced by eyewitness accounts of performances, interviews with key performers, and vivid illustrations. Packaged with an 80-minute CD containing examples of the music discussed in the book, it features guided listening and hands-on activities that encourage readers to engage actively and critically with the music." amazon.com.
New CD Releases
East Winds Ensemble ~ Masayo Ishigure (koto), Marco Lienhard (shakuhachi).
Theme music from Hayao Miyakaki's anime. Songs: Itsumo Nando Demo (Always with me)/ Spirited Away, Nausicca-Requiem / Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind, Futatabi (Reprise) / Spirited Away, Ashitaka and San / Princess Mononoke, Nausicca -Opening / Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind, Town Where You can see the Ocean / Kiki's Delivery Service, Kaze no Tori Michi / My Neighbor Totoro, Toki Jidai o Motomete / Porco Rosso, Hareta Hi ni / Kiki's Delivery Service, Ano Natsu E / Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke / Princess Mononoke, kimi o Nosete /Laputa: Castle in the Sky, ikan no Shiro / Laputa; Castle in the Sky
~ Yoko Hiraoka (koto) and David Wheeler (shakuhachi)
Classical pieces: Chidori no Kyoku, Kurokami, Tsuru no Sugomori, Yugao, Midare Rinzetsu, Yashima
A John Wittersheim koto made from aluminum and stainless steel.
John Wittersheim is a sculptor who works in metal and ceramics, and a Michigan professor who makes beautiful and unusual kotos as a hobby. In this interview we cover his passion for koto making.