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date: 18 November 2019


  • Henry Johnson


Zither of Japan. The name refers to the number of strings: nijū (20); gen (string). The instrument, a type of koto, was devised in 1969 as a collaboration between koto performer Nosaka Keiko (b 1938), composer Miki Minoru (b 1930), industrial designer Komiya Kiyoshi, and koto maker Ogawa Hideo. Nosaka was a member of the contemporary music group Nihon Ongaku Shūdan (Pro Musica Nipponia or Ensemble Nipponia, founded in 1964), and Miki was a director and composer for the group. Ogawa had already constructed a 30-string koto (sanjūgen) for Miyashita Shūretsu in 1955. After 1969 Nosaka added more strings to the nijūgen (21 strings in 1971; 22 in 1989; 23 in 1991). Later in 1991, Nosaka performed publicly on a 25-string version, sometimes called nijūgogen (25 strings), and sometimes simply nijūgen. This last version added three more bass strings and two higher-pitch strings to the 20-string ...

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