Yesterday I posted a picture of my daughter playing with her mother’s sanshin, a banjo-like Okinawan instrument that is the direct ancestor of the Japanese shamisen. I thought I’d post today about the shamisen player Kunimoto Takeharu and his foray into bluegrass, a style of music I vastly prefer (and I realize I’m in the minority here) to pop, J or otherwise.There's more. And the picture he refers to really is quite charming.
Kunimoto was born in Chiba Prefecture. Both parents were practitioners of a form of storytelling called roukyoku. Unlike the older and better-known art of rakugo comic storytelling, in traditional roukyoku narrative is combined with singing, and the storyteller performs standing, accompanied by a concealed shamisen player. There is an improvisational element as well, and the same piece may be dramatically different from one performance to the next. Roukyoku was widely popular at the height of radio, but like many older arts has lost a great deal of its audience in recent decades.
14 February 2006
Kunimoto Takeharu's Bluegrass Shamisen
Hiroshima-based blogger Wide Island profiles Kunimoto Takeharu.
Posted by Joel at 2/14/2006 10:12:00 PM