Students Try Their Hand at Playing the Koto

_MG_9565Students gathered last Friday for an introductory lesson in playing the traditional Japanese instrument called the koto.

The koto is the national instrument of Japan. Koto are about 180 centimeters (71 in) length, and made from kiri wood which is quite hard and gives the instrument a crisp sound. They have 13 strings that are strung over 13 movable bridges along the width of the instrument.

Players can adjust the string pitches by moving the white bridges in the picture before playing, and use three finger picks (on thumb, index finger, and middle finger) to pluck the strings, otherwise known as plectra.

Japanese koto strings, when tuned properly only have five tones whereas the traditional western music there are seven. The pressing of the strings is used to achieve the missing notes between. This is a more advanced technique so students  only practiced plucking. They also learned how to read koto sheet music, which is entirely different from standard sheet music used for most other forms of music.

Check out the slideshow below of JCMU students trying their hand at playing the koto.

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