The koto (琴 or 箏) is a traditional Japanese stringed musical instrument derived from Chinese zither (Guzheng). For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Japan topics. A string instrument (or stringed instrument) is a Musical instrument that produces Sound by means of Vibrating strings In the Hornbostel-Sachs A musical instrument is a device constructed or modified for the purpose of making Music. The guzheng, also spelled gu zheng or gu-zheng ( or zheng (箏 ( gu-, 古 means "ancient" The koto is the national instrument of Japan.  Koto are about 180 centimetres (71 in) long and have 13 strings that are strung over 13 movable bridges along the length of the instrument. Players can adjust the string pitches by moving these bridges before playing, and use three finger picks (on thumb, forefinger, and middle finger) to pluck the strings.
The character for koto is also read as sō in certain contexts. are the Chinese characters that are used in the modern Japanese logographic writing system along with Hiragana (ひらがな 平仮名 Katakana Though often called by a number of other names, these terms almost always refer to similar, but different instruments, such as the Chinese guzheng (箏) or guqin (琴, called kin in Japanese). The guzheng, also spelled gu zheng or gu-zheng ( or zheng (箏 ( gu-, 古 means "ancient" The (simplified/traditional 古琴; Pinyin: gǔqín
The koto was introduced to Japan in the 7th to 8th century from China, and largely derived from the Chinese Guzheng. The 7th century is the period from 601 to 700 in accordance with the Julian calendar in the Christian / Common Era. The 8th century is the period from 701 to 800 in accordance with the Julian calendar in the Christian / Common Era. China ( Wade-Giles ( Mandarin) Chung¹kuo² is a cultural region, an ancient Civilization, and depending on perspective a National The guzheng, also spelled gu zheng or gu-zheng ( or zheng (箏 ( gu-, 古 means "ancient" It was initially played only in the royal court, but this situation changed in the 17th century -- primarily because of the influence of Yatsuhashi Kengyo (1614-1684). As a means of recording the passage of Time, the 17th Century was that Century which lasted from 1601 - 1700 in the Gregorian calendar Though the koto, like many Japanese instruments derived from Chinese ones, has likely not changed much over the centuries, the guzheng has, and thus it is no longer valid to call them the same instrument. The koto used in gagaku is called gakuso. Gagaku (ja [[wiktionary雅 雅]][[wiktionary楽 楽]] literally "elegant music" is a type of Japanese classical music that has been performed at the Imperial court
Yatsuhashi Kengyo was a blind shamisen player who learned koto from an "official" court player named Hosui, in defiance of the rules which then stated that koto could not be taught to blind people (or women, incidentally). The shamisen or samisen ( Japanese: 三[[wiktionary 味|味]] 線, literally "three flavor strings" also called sangen (literally Possibly because of his personal experience with these restrictions, Yatsuhashi spent the rest of his life making the koto more accessible.
He invented a new "tranquil tuning" (平調子 hira joushi) to play the common people's songs more naturally. Hirajoshi, or hira-choshi ( Japanese 平調子 chōshi = tuning and hira = even level tranquil standard or regular is a Tuning scale adapted from Shamisen He composed (or is credited with composing) pieces that are still irreplaceable staples of the koto repertoire today, including Rokudan and Midare. Rokudan is an abbreviation for Rokudan no Shirabe, and it is one of Yatsuhashi Kengyo 's famous pieces (These compositions were partly responsible for the koto becoming respected as a solo instrument in its own right. ) Perhaps most importantly, his example led other non-elite, including women, to learn the koto too.
The influence of Western pop music has made the koto less prominent, although it is still developing as an instrument. Works are being written for 20- and 25-stringed kotos and 17-string bass kotos, and a new generation of players such as Kazue Sawai, Michiyo Yagi (who studied under Sawai) are finding places for the koto in today's jazz, experimental music and even pop. is a Japanese koto player noted for her performance of Contemporary classical music and Free improvisation. a Japanese musician studied koto under the late Tadao Sawai Kazue Sawai and Satomi Kurauchi and graduated from the NHK Professional Training School for Traditional Musicians Jazz is an American Musical art form which originated in the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States Experimental music is a term introduced by composer John Cage in 1955 Pop music as a genre features a noticeable rhythmic element catchy melodies and hooks, a mainstream style and conventional structure
June Kuramoto, of the jazz fusion group Hiroshima, was one of the first koto performers to popularize the koto in a non-traditional fusion style. Hiroshima is an American Jazz fusion band formed in 1974 by Sansei Japanese American Dan Kuramoto (wind instruments and band leader June Kuramoto David Bowie used the koto in the instrumental piece "Moss Garden" on his album "Heroes". David Bowie (ˈboʊiː born David Robert Jones on 8 January 1947 is an English Musician, actor producer, and arranger. This article is about a musical piece For the small soft plant see Moss " Moss Garden " is an instrumental piece written by "Heroes" (the quotation marks are part of the title for reasons of irony is an album by David Bowie, released in 1977 Paul Gilbert, a popular shred guitarist, recorded his wife, Emi playing the koto on his song "Koto Girl" from the album Alligator Farm. Paul Brandon Gilbert (born November 6, 1966 in Illinois, United States of America) is an American guitarist best known for his work Shred guitar or shred refers to lead Electric guitar playing that relies heavily on fast passages the act of playing fast passages on an electric guitar is termed Alligator Farm is the fourth solo studio album by Paul Gilbert formerly of the heavy metal band Racer X and the hard rock band Mr JRock / Visual Kei band Kagrra, are well known for using traditional Japanese musical instruments in many of their songs, an example being "Utakata" (うたかた), a song where the koto has a prominent place. The modern Japanese music scene includes a wide array of performers in distinct styles both traditional and modern ranging from rock electro punk folk metal reggae salsa and tango refers to a movement among Japanese musicians, that is characterized by the use of eccentric sometimes flamboyant looks is a Japanese Rock band and part of the country's Visual kei movement Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck composed "Koto Song" that, while not featuring the koto itself, is played to allow the piano to emulate its sound. Jazz is an American Musical art form which originated in the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States The piano is a Musical instrument played by means of a keyboard that produces sound by striking steel strings with Felt covered hammers David Warren Brubeck (born December 6, 1920 in Concord California) better known as Dave Brubeck, is an American jazz pianist
Well-known solo performers outside of Japan include koto master and award-winning recording artist Elizabeth Falconer, who also studied for a decade at the esteemed Sawai Koto School in Tokyo, as well as koto master Linda Kako Caplan, Canadian Daishihan (Grandmaster) and a member of Fukuoka's Chikushi Koto School for over two decades. Elizabeth Falconer (born July 20 1956) is one of the few American masters of the koto, a traditional zither from Japan David Horvitz pioneered the instrument into the contemporary indie rock scene playing on Xiu Xiu's new album, The Air Force. Xiu Xiu (ʃuː ʃuː shoe-shoe) is an experimental indie band originally from and currently based in Oakland California, with time often The Air Force is the fifth album by Xiu Xiu. It was released on September 15 2006 and is produced by Greg Saunier of Deerhoof
The 17-string bass koto, called jūshichi-gen in Japanese, has become more prominent over the years. The members of the band Rin' are perhaps some of the more famous jūshichi-gen players in the modern (pop/rock) music scene. Rin' is a Japanese popular music group which combines traditional Japanese instruments and style with elements of modern pop and rock music The influence of the koto on Western music is also evident in jazz. The "in-sen" scale, a five note scale, was first introduced to jazz by John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner (another koto player) and is based on the tuning of the koto. Alfred McCoy Tyner (born 11 December 1938) is a jazz pianist from Philadelphia Pennsylvania, known for his work with the John Coltrane
The progressive rock band Queen used a koto to great effect in their eight minute epic "The Prophet's Song" on their 1975 album A Night at the Opera. Progressive rock (often shortened to " progressive " " prog " or " prog rock " is a form of Rock music that evolved Queen were an English rock band formed in 1970 in London by guitarist A Night at the Opera is a 1975 album by English rock band Queen. A Night at the Opera is a 1975 album by English rock band Queen.