Monday, September 21, 2009


It is public holiday here in Singapore and salamat Hari Raya to all my Muslim friends.

I did not go out and sketch as I needed to spend my long weekend doing assessment at home. I also spent some time listening to shamisen on the Youtube. All the memories from the good old days kept surfacing in my thoughts. I was part of the Chinese Orchestra playing sanxian in the group of about 20 players.

Japanese shamisen derived from sanshin which has its roots in the Chinese sanxian. I was astonished how shamisen has modernised and flourished in Japan as compared to sanxian in China. Pipa, the instrument I am picking up now is definitely more popular than sanxian. Another significant difference is that cat or dog skin is used to cover its resonator in shamisen whilst snakeskin is used to cover its resonator in sanxian.

If you watch the performance by the Yoshida Brothers, you may think shamisen is way cooler than the electric guitar which is one of the most popular dream musical instruments of every modern youth. However, Hiromitsu Agatsuma is still my favourite.