in Japanese

Research Centre for Japanese Traditional Music

Kyoto City University of Arts


“Music instruments and the human race (No. 1)”

The Research Centre for Japanese Traditional Music runs lecture-demonstrations and other public events as a means of informing the public of the results of its research.

A lecture-demonstration entitled “Music instruments and the human race (No. 1)” was held on Saturday February 16, 2002, at Campus Plaza Kyoto.

Greetings: HIROSE Ryoohei (Director, Research Centre for Japanese Traditional Music)

HIROSE as Master of Ceremonies

From the flier:

How were music instruments—sound-producing tools—born?

In the ancient past, when there was no word for music, they must have been tools that happened to make sounds.

Eventually they became tools necessary for music, that is, music instruments.

In the beginning, they were made from materials common in the area where the people who made them lived, and were fashioned in a form that pleased the people (or peoples) who made them, to produce the music that the people desired. Consequently, techniques for producing sound on them developed further, leading to improvements in the structures of the instruments. Now a great number of instruments exist in our world.

We would like to think about some of the great variety of issues that are involved in the discussion of music instruments.

Introducing the issues:

After some general remarks from KUBOTA Satoko, there was a talk on the issues of humans and music instruments from TANIMOTO Kazuyuki, a specialist on the music culture of the Ainu. This was followed by a presentation by the flute specialist UESUGI Koodoo, which demonstrated some of the ways in which the Japanese may have begun to make sounds with the stones, wood, bamboo and earth that were familiar parts of their environment.

“What music instruments mean for members of the human race”

KUBOTA clapping her hands to demonstrate the use of the human body as an instrument

“Music without instruments, music with few instruments, and music with many instruments: examples from the music of the northern peoples, centering on that of the Ainu”

HIROSE interviewing TANIMOTO, who is explaining how a shaman’s drum is beaten
Picture of the tonkori, an instrument of the Ainu (from TANIMOTO Kazuyuki’s book Ainu-e o kiku [Ainu-e: Music Ethnography of a Cultural Transformation])

“Were instruments conceived in this way?” (with performance on various wind instruments)

UESUGI with the instruments
Performance on the mukkuri (jew’s harp of the Ainu)
Performance on the iwabue (stone flute)
Performance on the shinobue (bamboo flute)

New developments at museums:

In the next section of the lecture-demonstration, members of the staffs of three museums with significant collections of instruments, including those of Japan, were interviewed about their policies for acquisition, management, and exhibition.

SHIMA Kazuhiko (Chief Curator, Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments)
Handout (in Japanese)
OOKAJI Haruhiko (Staff Member, Museum of Musical Instruments, Osaka College of Music)
Handout (in Japanese)
UEYAMA Shigeru (Chief Curator, The Museum of Kyoto)
Handout (in Japanese)
New developments at museums, with slides

A final discussion session including the audience was planned, but unfortunately time ran short, and this session had to be cut shorter than planned.

Many specialists on Japanese music and instruments from various parts of Japan, gathered in Kyoto for a meeting of the Centre’s research projects on music iconography and the reconstruction of music instruments, attended the lecture-demonstration. The final discussion was chaired by Prof. KUBOTA Satoko.

Related pages

Lecture-Demonstration “Music instruments and the human race (No. 1)”

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Created on March 22, 2002
Last Update on March 22, 2002
(C) Research Centre for Japanese Traditional Music, Kyoto City University of Arts