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.