I am practicing Sanshin for my upcoming live performances next month, and have so many songs to practice. From Shima uta, culture songs, love songs, Eisa-songs (a kind of matsuri songs) and old folk songs, too many songs to master them all. It is a never-ending story to practice traditional dance and music.
This is my practice room at home.
Today, I practiced Ganbare Bushi, written by BEGIN.
Now, we all know that Begin was originally from Yayeyama Island.
One thing I have noticed is that Ganbare bushi is very similar to Hanjo Bushi, which was also created on Yaeyama island, and the lyrics of Hanjo Bushi are written in the Yaeyama dialect, and Ganbare Bushi
is written in the Japanese Language.
As an example,
I will compare the beginnings of two songs below:
Here is the beginning (Kun-Kun-Shi) of Ganbare Bushi (がんばれ節）
while below is the beginning of Hanjo Bushi (繁盛節）
(danjyu tu-yu ma-ri-du ）
I tend to not to practice these two songs on the same day, since their Kun-Kun-Shi are similar,
and I get confused.
The tempo of these two songs are similar, too.
Today, I am going to talk about the Kun-Kun-Shi of Ganbare Bushi:
Jakuhai monode wa arimasuga :四合四上尺合工尺工七五五工四工尺
hitokoto iwasete moraimasu：上合上尺上合上老四上四乙合
minnaga genki ni naruyo-ni：工合工五七四七五工七五七工合工尺
Ganbare Bushi wo utaimasho：上合上尺工合工尺工七五尺工
I am a fan of Yaeyama folk songs, including Bigin's songs.
Today, I went to see the movie Argo. I live close to a Movie Theater, one of the most cheapest movie theaters in New York City. A movie cost $6.50. It is a small theater, but a comfortable one.
I am not particularly a fan of Ben Affleck as an actor, but the story is based on a true story, and I enjoyed Argo very much. Ben could be nominated for an Academy award for his directing of Argo.
Chris Messina was in today's movie. This week, I saw two movies (Monogamy and An Invisible Sign) with this actor. I liked both movies.
Movies were my hobby when I lived in Tokyo during the 80s and 90s. I used to get free premier tickets for the opening nights of foreign films, hosted buy a newspaper company in Tokyo, and I used to go to those premiers once or twice a week, and I wound up seeing over 60 movies in a year in theater. My favorite movie during the 80s was The Deer Hunter, directed by Micheal Cimino. It was a shocking movie.
I also saw a movie called "Taken 2" last week at the same theater, which I enjoyed..
Over all, I would give 3 stars to Taken 2, and 4 stars to Argo.
Today, I am so happy to read news regarding an Okinawan Kumi Odori (Udui) performance, in which Kabuki Onna gata performer Bando Tamasaburo will act as the main character of a new program called "Chifijin Tanjo" jointly produced by the Okinawan National Theater and Tokyo National Theater. The program will be performed in both theaters next March. The dance is arranged by Master Noho Miyagi: the National Treasure
This news is an indication of innovation, at least to me. The top Kabuki Onnagata Tamasaburo will perform Kumi Udui for the first time ever, while other genre actors like traditional Noh and Kabuki performers have never tried to utilize other genres before in traditional dance scenes.
I am particularly fond of Tamasaburo, since he has not only achieved the highest level of Onnagata of Kabuki, but also has mastered other dance genres, including Chinese classical dance called 'Kongeki," which has been performed by Chinese actors in China.
Kumi Udui was created during the 18th century by Chokun Tamagusuku (1684-1734). He was the first Odori Bugyo (appointed as a court dancer by the Ryukyu Kingdom) and performed Kumi Udui first in 1719.
Kumi Udui is a type of performance that combines classical Ryukyu dances, singing (dialogues mostly consisting of 30 syllables in four lines of eight, eight, eight and six), with live music.
Chokun has created seven kumi udui numbers during his time:
Shushin Kaneiri, Nido Tikiuchi, Mekarushi-, Onna Munugurui, Koko No Maki, Timiji Nu En, and Hana Uri Nu En. In recent years, there have been many new Kumi Udui numbers written and performed at both Okinawa and Tokyo's national theaters.
Today, I would like to talk about my Sanshin lessons:
I really am enjoying playing the Sanshin.
One of my favorite Okinawan traditional folk song writers is Mr. Fukuhara.
He wrote Basho Fu and many other folk songs.
The Four Sisters, the first sister group to become superstar in the late 1960 in Okinawa, sang songs written by Mr. Fukuhara. I like the songs performed by the Four Sisters, which include Hatachi Miyarabi, Chinnuku Jyushi, Yacchi, etc. Currently, I am trying to practice Hatachi Miyarabi, one of the Four Sisters' hit songs. I love the vocals on this song very much. The problem for me is that I can't find Kun-Kun-shi (sheet music) for many old songs (including this one) that I would like to practice, since they have not been published . Most of the songs performed by the Four Sisters and Deigo Musume (another folk group of four real sisters who started out in 1970s) aren't publicly available in Kun-Kun-shi form.
There have been many folk song groups of actual sisters over the years, but only the Four Sisters and Deigo Musume have lasted to the present day.
The group NeNezu (which means older sisters in the Okinawan language) has been popular since the 1980s, even though they are not actually sisters, but professional singers (and their membership has changed over the years).
I grew up listening to the Four Sisters and Deigo Musume, and still enjoy their music. I find myself growing nostalgic when I hear many of their songs. I also have five sisters, and so identify quite strongly with those groups; I used to hang around with older girls in our neighborhood, calling them "ne-ne" and imitating the songs of those great Four Sisters group. Our group of friends (four members) would visit nursing homes and sing for them as volunteers, when I was in elementary school. That's why I know many of the songs of the Four Sisters.
Nowadays, many Shimauta songs' Kun-Kun-Shi have been published, including Shima Uta, and the songs of the group Begin. I like Shimauta and Begin's songs too, but I have more passion for the old folk songs which became big hits during the late 60's and early '70s in Okinawa.
Usually, when I practice the Sanshin, I will play more than 10 songs in one session.
For example: today I am playing Shima Meguri, Chidori (Kanako Hatoma), Chura Shima Uchina, Satokibi Batake, Umukaji, Uruwashi No Ryukyu, Himeyuri No Uta, Hanagasa Bushi, Shirahama Bushi, etc., songs ranging from old folk songs to new kinds of Shimauta songs.
My Sanshin learning style is to practice many songs during each session. From slow tempo songs to fast tempo songs, I mix it up in every lesson, so I can train my finger movements. I do not recommend this method to beginners; I recommend beginners practice one song until they have mastered it, before moving on to other songs. Most importantly, you must learn to tell the story of the song in your performance.
Still, there are many ways to practice Sanshin, so it is OK to modify your practice in ways that work best for you.
Mastering the Sanshin and learning to sing all of these songs could take me the rest of my life. It is challenging to play Sanshin, yet it is so much fun.
If you are interested in playing Sanshin and singing the songs I love with me, please feel free to contact me.
I look forward to seeing you at my live performances!