二十五弦箏と私



私が子どもの頃、

箏の先生をしていた祖母に連れられてレッスンに通い始めた頃には

二十五弦箏という楽器はありませんでした

大人になり

突如として二十五弦箏の演奏を目の当たりにした時には、

その存在感と奥深い響きに「この楽器はなんだろう?」と

俄かには受け入れがたい思いと同時に



箏という楽器の捉え方をその根底から揺るがされた思いがしたことを覚えています

訳あって、長年学んできた箏を続けることができなくなってしまっていた時期がありました。

その時に、私の心の中に、その時の二十五弦箏の演奏が強く思い出されたのです。



私は自分の気持ちを確かめるように、

すぐにインターネットで二十五弦箏の、その時演奏された曲が入ったCDを購入し聴きました。

「琵琶行」というCDでした

「この楽器を演奏することができるなら、もう一度箏をやってみたい・・・」

それから私は、家出して居候で住んでいた静岡の友人の家から、絶縁中であった祖母に電話をかけたのです。

「二十五弦を買ってくれるなら、もう一度箏をやります。」

祖母の答えは、即答で「Yes」でした。

このようにして私は運命に導かれるように

二十五弦箏奏者としての道へ入っていくことになりました



楽器との出会いは恋愛とも似たものがあるなと思います



初めの出会い、そして、ぼんやりと気になり始める時期

そのことが頭のほとんどを占めて、それを手に入れるまでいてもたってもいられない時期

共に育み成長してく時期

さて、二十五弦箏は今から約30年前、1991年にできた新しい楽器です。

・・・ということは、この楽器が発表されてから私が初めて出会うまでに13年以上かかっていますね・・・!

この13年間、私は一体何をしてきたのだろう・・・?

出会うべき人に出会うまでの人生と、出会ってからの人生は、本当に全く違うものに見えるものですね

​この楽器は、箏であり、また、箏とは全然違った楽器であるとも言えます

この楽器は一体どんな楽器なのでしょうか?

私は間違いなく、この楽器は

日本が世界に誇るべきナンバーワンの楽器であると感じています

この楽器は歴史が浅く

その可能性の一端を野坂操寿という素晴らしい演奏家が提示してくれていますが、

まだまだ、未知の可能性に満ち溢れています

私はこの楽器とともに、

道を模索しながらずっとずっと成長し続けていきたいと思います。

What is 25 stringed koto ?

“Koto” is a Japanese traditional musical instrument. “25 stringed koto” was made based on this traditional koto in 1991 as a musical instrument which suited in the present age.

What is “koto” ?

Koto is a very simple musical instrument made of the Paulownia wood to which strings are stretched and on which movable bridges stand to support each strings. This instrument is played with an ivory nail attached to three fingers on the right hand. Traditional type of koto has 13 strings.

Koto is considered as the symbol of the "dragon" which is an imaginary animal of a Chinese myth positioned from ancient times as a mystical existance. The dragon is also compared to the sky which connects heavens and the ground because it can fly about the sky. The vestiges are in the name of each portion of koto like for example, dragon's tongue, dragon's head, dragon's tail, dragon's horn, dragon's eye and dragon's mouth.

The history of koto

Although koto is a traditional musical instrument of Japan, its origin is China. A prototype of the present koto, which is called “sou” at that time, was introduced into Japan across the sea in the 8th century, which is about 1300 years ago.

In China, there had already existed a musical instrument which becomes a basis of “sou” called "kin" and "shitsu" from the time of Hwan-huou civilization which is about 3000 years ago. "kin" is said to have been made as a musical instrument of five strings, and have become seven strings. “shitsu” was also made as a musical instrument of five strings. And then, it was divided into large shitsu of 50 strings, middle shitsu of 25 strings and small shitsu of 5 strings, and as time goes by, they were unified into 25 strings. By the 3rd century B.C., these had developed variously and among them, "sou" of 13 strings which become a prototype of "koto" appeared.

In Japanese, the term "koto" was originally a general term of a stringed instrument. It was used with the name of the instrument before, like “biwa no koto”, “sou no koto”. Now we use the term "koto" just referring to this "sou no koto".

After coming across to Japan in 8th century, koto became widespread in both ways as court music and as folk music. Many musical pieces were made for koto not only as one instrument in ensemble but also, as a solo instrument. Rendition also developed variously, and many schools were made. But a fundamental shape of koto as a musical instrument with 13 strings hardly changed until the base koto with 17 strings was born in the 20th century.

The invention of the extended stringed kotoes

From around the beginning of the 20th century, under the influence of western music, the quest for the new type of koto was started. In the shift of performing place from a small tatami room to a big concert hall, rich bass tone coming to be required, Michio Miyagi who is a most famous koto player and composer in Japan, and was a pivotal figure of new Japanese music in which the elements of western music was introduced, invented 17 stringed koto, which is specialized in a low tone in 1921. Other characteristic of 17 stringed koto is that it adopts “7 scale” like western music, while traditional koto adopts “5 scale” which was common in Japanese traditional music.

 

After this 17 stringed koto, many types of extended stringed koto have been invented. For example, 20 stringed koto, 25 stringed koto, base 25 stringed koto, 30 stringed koto, 32 stringed koto. Among them, the one having most strings is 80 stringed koto. But it was not actually used after only one trial performance because it was too difficult to play.

These extended stringed kotos all adopts “7 scale” which is suitable to play both “5 scale” and “7 scale” music like we can also play traditional “5 scale” on the piano. We can say we are able to play the “7 scale” on the traditional 5 scaled koto. But it’s technically very difficult and the range is quite limited.

25 stringed koto

In 1969, a famous koto player Keiko Nosaka who had been continuing to seek for the new state of contemporary Japanese music with many composers invented “20 stringed koto” as a musical instrument with volume and sound range sufficient as a solo instrument in a concert hall.

In 1987, Nosaka increased its strings to 22 and in 1991, she increased again to 25 to exceed the limit of the repertory it can play. And also, in the groping of better sound, a shape, structure, and a material it used have also been reconsidered and improved. As for "25 stringed kotos", the width between each strings became narrower than "20 stringed of kotos". And the many variety of the thickness of the strings is adopted to make the best sound for each sound range. The stand which places koto aslant was also developed.

After invented "25 stringed koto", Keiko Nosaka felt that there was no need to extend the number of strings any more. And looking back upon the process of inventing 25 stringed koto, she mentioned that for 20 stringed koto she had pursued for the sound which extends the world of koto, and for 25 stringed koto, she had pursued for the sound of the origin with which everyone sympathizes."

There was 25 stringed koto also in ancient China, called "shitsu" and famous Chinese poet "Bai Juyi" was also one of the adherents. "25 stringed koto" revived through the long history exceeding 2000 years in the present age. A famous Japanese composer Akira Ifukube well-known for music of the movie “Godzilla” mentioned that he felt special admiration for that koto has come to the original form of the ancient rite.