Gagaku – Hichiriki

Gagaku is Japanese imperial court music and dance also called the oldest orchestra in the world. It was transmitted from the old China and Korea around 5th century. Unlike other Asian countries, it's been preserved by musicians and dancers in imperial court and temples to the present era. There are bugaku (Dance and Music) and kangen (music). The music and dance transmitted through China are called togaku (Tang music) and the dancer (s) wear red costumes. On the other hands, one from Korea is called komagaku (Goryeo music) and the dancer (s) wear green costumes. Kuniburinoutamai is ancient Japanese music collection often performed for imperial court ritual and event. 

  • Ryuteki: To translate literally, it means a dragon flute. The sounds of ryuteki represents the dragon flying in the sky. It is played in togaku and decorates the melody that hichiriki plays. It was played by not only gagaku musician's but also noble people. It has 7 holes and about 2 octaves pitch range. Here is a fingering chart for ryuteki. 
    Ryuteki Fingering Chart
  • Komabue: To translate literally, it means a Goryeo flute. It is little smaller than ryuteki and the sounds produced are higher than others. It is played in komagaku. 
  • Kagurabue: To translate literally, it means a god-entertainment flute. It is larger than ryuteki and the sounds are lower than others. It is played in kuniburinoutamai. 
  • Hichiriki: Hichiriki is Japanese double-reed flute. It is divided into two parts: one is the main part including finger holes, another is the reed. Reed needs to be put into warm water in order to open the blow hole before playing. The players balloon their cheeks and blow it like blowing up a balloon. It is a typical gagaku sounds that reminds us of gagaku. It produces continental-taste sounds (though Japan is island). it has 1 octave pitch. Here is a fingering chart for hichiriki. Hichiriki Fingering Chart
  • Sho: Sho is also called housyo. Ho is named after houou (Chinese imaginary bird). The shape looks like the resting bird that folds its wings. It has 17 bamboos and the sounds represents shine in the sky. 
  • Kakko: Kakko is a percussion played in togaku of gagaku. It's played both side skins with two sticks. 
  • Sannotsuzumi: Sannotsuzumi is a percussion played in komagaku of gagaku. The player hit one side skin with stick with right hand and hold the rope with left hand. 

Gagaku: Oldest Orchestra in the world

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