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date: 14 November 2019


  • David W. Hughes
  • , revised by Henry Johnson


Generic term for various types of Japanese metallophone; compound forms take the suffix -gane (‘metal’). It has two main sub-meanings, distinguished in writing—‘gong’ and ‘bell’; in practice, however, these categories are not so distinct. Kane is also used in some areas to refer to cymbals. The pitch of the instruments is not musically significant: they are never tuned to other instruments, nor do they play melodies. (An unimportant exception is the unra (Chin. yunluo), which was rarely used in Japan.) On instruments using multiple kane (e.g. orugōru, matsumushi) it is important only that their pitches differ.

Most Japanese gongs and bells are comparatively thick-walled for their size. Most are closely associated with Buddhism, whether in present practice or in origin, and many are also used in geza (music of the kabuki theatre) for sound effects—particularly to evoke a Buddhist setting or mood. Although kane are also frequently encountered in folk music, they are less common in secular urban music than in China. The name for a single type of ...

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