One of the most famous O-koto pieces of music is "Sakura Sakura".
It's one of the keystones of Japanese culture. The main melody of this
song will be familiar to nearly all Japanese people. "Sakura"
means "Cherry Blossom" in Japanese. Try listening to it on the
Virtual O-koto below!
Now have a try at playing it yourself! (hint: move the mouse below the strings so
that you don't play them twice!)
The Japanese harp, or O-koto, is one of a series of Japanese classical
instruments that, along with the appropriate musical scales, give Japanese
music and culture its distinctive sound. The sound is produced by plucking
the strings using artificial "nails" which are placed over two
fingers and the thumb of the right hand.
The koto comes in several different varieties. The one featured here is the "13 string" version. Each of the 13 strings is tuned to a different note. The note produced by each string is defined by the position of the small "stands" placed under the strings. Different songs usually require different tunings, and it is not unusual for players to use several different kotos during a performance. Notes other than the 13 can be obtained by bending the strings.
The score of a koto is not usually the traditional
Italian one. It is more usual to find the
score written in kanji, or Japanese characters.
The characters used are the characters for
the numbers 1 to 10, followed by the characters
"toe" "ii" and "kin".
The character for the number one corresponds
to the thickest, lowest sounding string.
The score is usually written vertically,
from top to bottom and from right to left!
I hope you enjoyed this introduction of the Japanese Culture and the O-Koto.
Please mail me and tell me what you think! I've been playing it for the
last 3 years and find it a really easy instrument to play. If you get the
chance, have a go at playing "Sakura Sakura" on a real one -
guaranteed to impress your friends!
Koto's don't just have to be for Japanese music though. Here's a solo I
did for a dance track using an o-koto!