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Sanshin Lesson #1 March 26, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in History, Music.
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The most famous sanshin player here who’s not Okinawan is Byron Jones. He has established himself as an expert of Okinawan culture and language, even though born American, and now he teaches sanshin to native Okinawans.

Byron is a friend of Mike, our program director, and old friend of our moms, so he let me sit in on this week’s lesson at the Urasoe community center.

Most of the hour-and-a-half practice was spent eating a Hotto Motto platter and congratulating one of the students, who just completed a master’s degree in Ryukyuan studies at age 75.

But I did learn about this notation: Music is read from right to left in vertical columns. The right side of the column is for the voice, which also includes symbols denoting inflection and intonation, and the left side is for the sanshin notes, written in kanji characters.

Byron also explained the two main schools of classical sanshin music. The original is named for its creator, Afuso, the elder students. This method is said to be the “more pure.” One of Afuso’s students, Nomura, was chosen by the king to develop a new style of music, Amuro, which I think is more widely practiced today. (If I got any of this wrong, feel free to correct.)

He gave me some homework to memorize the note positions, since sanshin has no frets. Hopefully I will have more information as weekly lessons continue!

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1. Sanshin Lesson #2 « oki yo! - April 4, 2010

[…] Chon Chon, sanshin, surf music, Surfaris, Ventures, Wipe Out trackback I didn’t make it to Byron Jones’ class this week, but Uehara-san at the izakaya gave me a lesson instead. He taught me the refrains of […]


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