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date: 14 November 2019

U [kuretakeu (kuretake: type of bamboo); ōshō (‘large shō’); u no fue (‘u type of flute’)]locked

  • Henry Johnson

Extract

[kuretakeu (kuretake: type of bamboo); ōshō (‘large shō’); u no fue (‘u type of flute’)]

Obsolete Japanese mouth organ. It is a large type of shō with a lower range and longer mouthpiece, once used in gagaku (court music), specifically in the tōgaku repertory from Tang-dynasty China. It might be related to the ancient Chinese and might have become obsolete during the Heian period (794–1185). The three oldest known surviving examples or fragments are preserved in the Shōsōin repository in Nara. The u had 17 free-reed bamboo pipes of different length, each with a fingerhole, inserted into a small lacquered wooden windchest (overall height up to about 92 cm). The pipes were positioned in two similar rows with the tallest pipes in the middle, one row facing the player and the other on the opposite side. The player held the windchest in both hands and inhaled or exhaled while covering the fingerholes to couple the vibrating reeds to their pipes. While the u is no longer used in traditional ...

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