Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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6. Shamisen.

A Japanese three-string fretless plucked lute (fig.13) this instrument is calledsamisenin the Kansai area of Kyoto and Osaka, and as part of koto chamber music it is often known as sangen. Since the mid-17th century it has been a popular contributor to the music of many levels of society, from folk and theatrical forms to classical and avant-garde compositions.

A shamisen player usually accompanies a singer; purely instrumental music occurs primarily during interludes. This has implications for construction: instrument must suit voice, and both must suit their context. Appreciation of shamisen music, as of any music, requires an understanding of the context of each genre: physical, historical, aesthetic-philosophical, musical etc.

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