Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Nohtes on Instruments

In honour of the fact that I can now get a nice sound out of my new noh flute

I decided to introduce my drawing hand to the noh 'orchestra'.

First, of course, the flute - the 'noh-kan'. The flute player's music opens every noh play, and signals most of the character entrances and special dances. The musician always sits (Japanese style, for the whole duration of the play - OW) at the back of stage left.

At the back of centre stage sit the Drummers. Biases aside, they are at least as important - if not more so - than the flautist. Left in the picture is the otsuzumi - a big drum that makes a clicking noise. Right is kotsuzumi - a smaller but strangely (for me) deeper-sounding instrument.

In noh, the voice is just as much of an instrument as the drum. A variety of strange-sounding calls ('yo', 'ho', 'hya') are actually written into the drummer's score, and followed by the dancer and the chorus. In practice - and sometimes, onstage, in emergencies, these instruments are 'played' with human voicemaking the relevant sounds.

Here's the noh band (minus singers) in neon --

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