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date: 14 November 2019


  • Henry Johnson


Bowed lute of Japan. It was a short-lived, experimental instrument of Japanese modernism. The instrument was devised by musicologist Tanabe Hisao, made by Misago Tōraku, and first used in 1922. It combined elements of the shamisen and the cello in order to produce a lower range and larger sound than the shamisen’s. Its body was four-sided and trapezoidal. At first the soundtable was made of pine and the back of maple; later the whole body was made of paulownia. The neck was made of redwood or sandalwood. It was held on an endpin like a cello and had soundholes like a cello’s, but had three strings, of metal rather than silk. Resembling instruments of West Asia and Mongolia, the reikin was like a large kokyū (see dai-kokyū), and sometimes referred to as such. It was used in new Japanese music (shin nihon ongaku), with a small repertoire written especially for it. It was later made in small, medium, and large versions but is nowadays rarely heard, although some players still use it in modern music....

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