Sunday, July 27, 2008

East Meets West on A Saturday Night

Last night I went to a koto concert at the Morton Arboretum. There we listened to koto music for two and half hours, an instrument I knew next to nothing about. The koto is a 13-stringed zither which was introduced to Japan from China in the 7th century. It was very popular among the merchant classes of the Edo period (1600-1867).

We were told that the koto resembles an imaginary dragon with the coils of string at one end being his tail, and the flat face at the other end being his head. It is made of paulownia wood ("kiri" in Japanese), and the bridges (looking like white teeth to me) can be moved according to the tuning required for the piece being played.

The man is Curtis Patterson, born and raised in my home town, who moved to Japan in 1986 to study koto.

The woman is Ryuko Mizutani, a graduate of the NHK Japanese national broadcasting company's school for traditional Japanese music. She appears on a number of recordings, including her solo album "Vista" which I bought to give away as one of the prizes for this challenge.

If you have a chance to listen to koto music, perhaps while you're reading, I would strongly encourage it for a beautiful environment.
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caitlin said...

I'm sure it sounds lovely. I may try listening to some myself when I do my needlepoint. I would think a peaceful environment would contribute to the enjoyment. ( I can't imagine trying to listen to nice music while you have 3 screaming teenagers running around, two dogs barking their heads off at the 3 screaming teenagers,and a business meeting staring you in the face )...but maybe that's exactly when you need to sit and listen to this music, hmmm?

Bellezza said...

Yeah, sounds a little like being in my classroom. So to speak. :) Calming music calms the kids right away! I can't wait to play koto music for them this year; last year it was a little Earl Klugh that did the trick.