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date: 14 November 2019


  • David W. Hughes


General term for Japanese gongs that are struck on the inside surface; they tend to be thinner than those struck on the outside, which are called atarigane. The shōko of court music is such a gong but the best-known example is used in matsuri-bayashi (Shintō festival music of the Tokyo area): a small gong (diameter 10 to 15 cm) nestles in the left hand and its inside face and side are struck in rapid, complex rhythms with a stick tipped with a small deer-horn cylinder; at the same time the left hand alternately damps the gong and lets it ring. The rapid up-and-down movements of the stick might have called to mind the action of a pestle in a mortar and suggested the name, which means ‘grinding gong’. (For another etymology see Shōko .) This style of gong playing is used also in geza (off-stage music of the kabuki theatre) for urban festival scenes....

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