- Title: JAPAN: Glass gives traditional Japanese musical instruments a new sheen
- Date: 22nd January 2010
- Summary: TOKYO, JAPAN (JANUARY 20, 2010) (REUTERS) MORE OF THE ENSEMBLE PLAYING A MODERN VERSION OF TRADITIONAL JAPANESE MUSIC CLOSE UP OF GLASS SHIME-DAIKO FLUTE AUDIENCE WOMEN PLAYERS ON STAGE WATANABE ON STAGE WITH GLASS SHAKUHACHI FLUTE END OF PERFORMANCE
- Embargoed: 6th February 2010 12:00
- Location: Japan
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment / Showbiz,Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVA8GQ1EJ3ZFWQ3TVFQ2KVWRKSM0
- Story Text: Japanese traditional instruments find new life in glass.
Ancient Japanese musical instruments were given a new shine after one group decided to make theirs out of glass, instead of traditional wood.
Unveiling a five instrument ensemble in a Tokyo hotel on Wednesday (January 20), the Hari Gonin Bayashi, established to promote the use of glass in traditional Japanese instruments, played several traditional ditties to a mixed audience of media and the general public.
Drums and flutes play a major part in traditional Japanese music, with the 'tsuzumi', or an hour-glass shaped drum often being the lead instrument. Usually made out of leather and a hard wood such as cherry tree wood, the tsuzumi is famed for its high pitched beats and is the only Japanese drum that is hit with one's bare hands.
Kaho Tosya (pronounced Kah-hoe Toe-shah), the leader drummer, told Reuters that while the glass drums have yet to satisfy her fully, they still produce some amazing sounds that differentiates it from her other drums that she regularly uses.
"If you ask me whether this has the same timbre as the original drum I would say that it has still not reached a complete passing grade. I suppose because this is the first one made of glass. But, on the other hand, this can reproduce a very sharp high pitch," said Tosya.
The wooden frame version of the 'tsuzumi' is said to harden over time, sometimes even centuries, to create the drum's signature beat, she added.
The instruments were made by Tokyo-based Hario, a glass maker known here for its popular glass coffee pot production. It took 13 of its glass artisans over 19 months and ten million yen ($109,000 U.S. dollars) to create the five instruments on display on Wednesday.
These glass instruments are the brain child of the shakuhachi flute player Gazan Watanabe, 48, who says glass is the perfect material for Japanese musical instruments.
"One of the characteristics of the Japanese instruments is the hardness of the material they are made by. The same hardness and smoothness of the surface were the two fundamental characteristics that we seek for also with these glass instruments," Watanabe told Reuters.
Watanabe also said he hopes glass instruments will be easier to mass produce than the wood ones, allowing for greater use of these traditional drums and flutes in modern music arrangements.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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