I WANT TO EXPRESS BEAUTY THAT HAS BEEN REFINED OVER TIME
Hiroshi Hozumi is currently performing as a Shamisen performer both within Japan and around the world.
He has experience in Software Engineering, which is certainly a different career path when compared to the traditional artistic image of Japanese musical instruments.
To be a musician was his dream from a young age and we asked him for hints on how to enjoy Shamisen music, the instrument itself and about his journey from performer to pro performer.
THE DREAMS OF A YOUNG BOY WHO SAID “I WANT TO PLAY A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT”.
-Were you familiar with the Shamisen from a young age?
Not at all (lol). My grandfather lived in a hot spring town (Nihonmatsu, Fukushima) and I heard that He liked the Shamisen music played by a Geisha there.
I also heard that my mother used to play the Koto, but I never actually saw her play. So I never had a chance to come in contact with a Japanese instrument when I was a child.
However, I had always held onto the dream of playing a musical instrument.
I wasn’t able to buy an instrument for myself when I was younger and I didn’t really have a chance to touch any instruments, but later I became a member of the Traditional Japanese music club which did performances with Koto, Shakuhachi and Shamisen.
I mostly played Jiuta pieces and Sankyoku pieces that came mainly from the Kyoto area.
Sankyoku: The term used to describe an ensemble with the three instruments: a Jiuta Shamisen (3 strings), a Koto, and a Kokyu. Furthermore, the types of pieces played can be called “Jiuta”, “Soukyoku” and “Kokyu-Gaku”. The Shakuhachi may also be included.
-WHY DID YOU CHOOSE A JAPANESE INSTRUMENT?
I always wanted to play an instrument, but I was thinking it may be hard as there are already many experienced people in the fields of piano, guitar and brass band for example, and there was a traditional Japanese instrument music club at my university where most members were beginners. Due to this, I think it was easy to become a member.
-What attracted you to the Shamisen?
Really I feel it must be the unique noise it makes called “Sawari”. For example, if you think about Western stringed instruments, they tend to try to cover up noise with the sound of other instruments from the ensemble or harmony. However, with the Shamisen, it is designed so that this noise is purposefully heard.
It can be also seen in a similarly designed instrument called a Biwa, but it is designed so that the vibrations are amplified by the “Sawari” and it makes a sound.
*SAWARI: a noise created by the vibrations caused when the first string (the thickest of the three strings) lightly touches the Shamisen during a performance.
Furthermore, the playing technique is very unique, as though a stringed instrument and percussion instrument has been combined.
As this very unique sound cannot be heard in other instruments, I feel that we can spread the appeal of this instrument with it’s unusual sound worldwide.