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date: 05 December 2019


  • Henry Johnson


Experimental zither of Japan. It is a larger version of the koto. Its name refers to the number of strings: hachijū (80); gen (string). The hachijūgen was devised by Miyagi Michio (1894–1956) and first used in 1929 with a public performance of Kyō no Yorokobi (‘Today’s Joy’) composed by Miyagi, and an arrangement of a J.S. Bach Prelude. In the 1920s, Miyagi, a virtuoso koto player, collaborated with the instrument makers Tsurukawa Shinbee and Tsurukawa Kihee to develop the massive instrument. It was about 213 cm long, 98 cm wide at the head (to the player’s right), 37 cm wide at the tail, and 9 cm tall. The movable bridges were made in different sizes to accommodate the instrument’s proportions and stringing. The strings were attached at the head to tuning pins in three rows. As with some other innovative koto in the 20th century, the player sat in a chair. The original ...

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