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'Nohkan' Flute, its mysterious Origin

'Nohkan' Flute

The Nohkan is used in Noh drama, Japanese traditional theater developed for nobility. It is simply called Fue, meaning flute.
Nohkan is also used in 'Kabuki', Japanese traditional Opera.




Material of Nohkan


Smoked bamboo from miscanthus roof(100 or more years old).
Generally the material used for this flute is dried bamboo (well-smoked, kept over 100 years is better).
We call smoked bamboo in japanese "Susudake".



Cut and Paste Techniques

This is a unique technique to chage a big bamboo to proper size .
Cut and shave the big bamboo to 8 peices of trapezoid sticks.
And paste these one to make up a pipe, with upset two sides, to make hard inside the pipe.
This method make the sound of flute more clear and powerful.
This picture is a sample of this technique by Mr.Sunagawa, he is very skillfull, and he is pasteing 16 peices of sticks.



Structure of Nohkan


The size of the Nohkan is very different in each sample. This is but one sample.


The Main material is bamboo. Inside the pipe, it is painted very thick and hard 'Japan'.
There are several reasons for painting. One is to produce a powerful sound, and the other is to be able to tune in detail. One additional purpose is to protect from corrosion.
There is a piece of lead inside of upper side of pipe.
Center of the flute, inside of pipe, there is one more misterious thin pipe.
It's called 'Nodo', throat in english.
There is a peice of ebony, formed bamboo joint, called 'Semi'(it mean cicada), because it looks like cicada.
There is a wrapping decoration called 'kabamaki', 'kaba' means bark of cherry trunk.
'Kabamaki' is made from a long strap 'kaba', that is a long link of thin cutting piece of bark.
There are finishing touches of 'Japan', inside to be vermillion, and outside to be black.

Inside the Nohkan pipe : 'Nodo'(Throat)


The Nokan resembles as Ryuteki, but its sound and musical scale are remarkably different.
That is caused to inner thin pipe 'Nodo'(Throat), center of the flute, between mouth hole and the first finger hole.
It is still unknown when ,who , why began to insert the pipe inside the flute.
Anyway, this structure makes the Nokan sound very different, mysterious and profound.

Reference:Nohkan fingering and the scale(Morita school). It may sound strange microtone.



'Syouga':Score


Syouga of Isso school

Syouga is mimicry of flute sound, it's very important and helpful practice.
But Syouga doesn't indicate the musical scale.
There has been some kind of Nohkan school for a long time in Japan, Isso school, Morita school, Fujita school and so on.
There are some difference between these schools.
This is a Syouga sample 'Tyu-no-mai' of Isso school.

Please click this score to listen to the sample of music.(Realaudio ".RA":120KB)
getrealTo play RealVideo or RealAudio, get the Real Player and install it.



Syouga of Morita school

There has been some kind of Nohkan school for a long time in Japan, Isso school, Morita school, Fujita school and so on.
There are some difference between these schools.
This is a Syouga sample 'Tyu-no-mai' of Morita school.
Tyu-no-mai is the most popular dance song of 'Noh-Bayashi'.



'Hishigi' : Misterious Nokan sound


Hishigi is a very high-pitched sound.
It is not used in melody, and it's not a part of rhythm.
It is used for effect in the Noh drama.
There is nothing else like this Hishigi sound in the world.
The misterious Hishigi sound is sometimes explained as an exclaimation or to call a god.


'Hishigi' Sound (Real Audio ".ra" 6KB)
Please install the Real player. RealAudio 3.0 has progressed sound quality, you need 28.8kbps.
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