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Hachidan no Shirabe

八段の調

This is a piece of genre Sokyoku in the style of Dan mono from the Ikuta Ryû - 生田 School. This piece was composed for Koto by the person Yatsuhashi Kengyo. This piece was composed for Shamisen by the person Tsuyama Kengyo.

History (Kitahara Kozan II):

The title of this piece "Hachi dan" ("Eight sections") refers to its being composed according to the traditional "section" (dan) rule. There are 104 beats in each section, grouped into 52 two-time measures; to the first section are added a few supplementary measures to serve as an introduction. The composer, Joshu Yatsuhashi, founded his own school and established the standards of some 17th century musical forms, such as the Kumiuta (vocal suite), and the Danmono (instrumental pieces, to which the present piece belongs), as well as the chords for the instruments involved. The piece presented here can be played as a solo of koto, or as a duet involving either koto and shamisen, or two koto. The latter formation is presented on this disc.

Hachidan no Shirabe appears on the following albums

AlbumShakuhachiKotoShamisen
Art of the Japanese Bamboo Flute and Koto Richard Stagg Hasegawa Aiko
    HACHIDAN is a piece for solo koto. The title means "eight steps". The piece belongs to the group of compositions known as danmono, literally "step-type", the steps referring to sections of the overall form. Each section, or "dan" has a specific number of bars, usually 26. The lowest two strings, tuned a fifth apart, are frequently sounded together, providing a kind of intermittent drone to accompany the melody above. The name Kengyo is in fact a title, the highest-ranking of its kind, conferred upon blind artists, amongst whom koto-players were numbered, as well as acupuncturists, masseurs and shamisen-players. The opening section contains slow syncopations in which the silences are as accurately measured as the sounded beats, and which set in train a long and very gradual increase in speed which reaches its maximum near the end.

Art of the Koto - The music of Japan Played by Kimio Eto None Eto Kimio
    Variations in Eight Steps

    One of the mainstays of the classic repertoire. Composed around the middle of the 17th century by Yatsuhashi Kengyo, the musician most responsible for the development of popular Koto music. In this type of composition, each variation has a fixed, uniform length with a gradual increase in tempo up to the last variation when the tempo is again slowed.


Art of the Koto - Volume II
Yoshimura Nanae
Fascination of the Koto 2
Yonekawa Toshiko
    Hachidan (Instrumental composition in eight sections)

    Composed by Yatuhashi kengyo (d.1685). This piece has the same characteristics as Rokudan in terms of the size of each section and melodic movements. In traditional teaching practice this piece is taught to pupils just after Rokudan. As a memory aid pupils are taught the following: the 4th section starts with the 4th string of the koto, the fifth section with the 5th string and the 6th section with the 6th string.

Fascination of the Shakuhachi - 3 Yamamoto Hozan Yamamoto Shuya
    This koto piece is categorized as so-kyoku-dan-mono. It is also sometimes simply called HACHIDAN. Composed by YATSUHASHI kengyo, this is a very well-known dan-mono (dan type) or shirabe-mono piece, next in popularity only to ROKUDAN. It consists of eight dan (musical phrases), each dan containing one hundred and four notes. The tempo increases as the piece progreses from one dan to the next, until the end when the tempo drops back. Usually this is played as a solo piece, but YATSUHASHI kengyo, who was a master koro player in rhe Edo Era, composed a melody to accompany HACHIDAN for ensemble playing. Therefore, even though it was originally for the koto alone, it is sometimes played with sangen or shamisen. Both the Ikuta and Yamada schools play this piece.

Fujii Kunie, The World of Shamisen and Jiuta Singing 2 None
Togashi Noriko

Fukami Satomi - Sokyoku Jiuta Shu - 1
Fukami Satomi

Haru no Umi - Koto Meikyoku Sen - 2 Yamamoto Hozan Sawai Tadao
Ikuta Ryu Sokyoku Senshu Volume 02


Japanese Music for Koto and Shakuhachi - 2
Nakamura Soyo
Koto - Keiko Nosaka
Nosaka Keiko
Koto and Shamisen Gendai Meikyoku Shu 01


Masterpieces of the Koto
Sawai Tadao

Miyagi Michio - Best One


Rokudan Koto no Meikyoku
Miyagi Kiyoko

Sankyoku Home Practice - Shoden 2 Aoki Reibo II

Sokyoku Jiuta Taikei 08
Uehara Masaki II Takahashi Eisei II
Togashi Noriko - 01 None
Togashi Noriko
Tradition and Avantgarde in Japan


    This composition, which is attributed to Yatsuhashi kengyo, was probably written in the middle of the seventeenth century. However, its title was first mentioned in the "Buso gafu shu", of 1755, and the oldest surviving koto tablatures are found in two collections of music called "Kinkyoku shifu" (1772) and "Sokyoku taiisho" (1779). That is not surprising if we recall that the tradition of koto music in a guild of blind musicians was an oral one, and notation was intended only for the students who were not blind but nonetheless performed koto as amateurs.

    The piece is a danmono in eight sections. Today it is generally agreed that all of the danmono can be traced back to a popular piece of music titled "Sugagaki", which is recorded in its original form in the music book "Shichiku shoshinshu" (1664). In the danmono this piece of music was unfolded in various ways. One then spoke of "Rokudan-sugagki" ("Sugagaki" in six sections) or "Hachidan-sugagaki" ("Sugagaki" in eight sections, today's"Hachidan no shirabe").

    In formal terms the eight "levels" (dan) or sections are all fifty-measures long. Only the first section has three additional measures as an introductory phrase (kando). The thirteen strings of the instrument are tuned to the hirajoshi scale of e-f-a-b-c-e (pentatonic with half-tone steps). It is striking that sections 4, 5, 6, and 8 begin with the notes of the fourth (c), fifth (e), sixth (f), and eighth (b) strings. This emphasizes the typical way in which the musical development is made dynamic in the danmono, expressed in a gradual increase in pitch space, an intensification of the gestures, and an increase in tempo. Only just before the end does the curve of tension relax, and the piece ends with a serene cadence. One unusual feature of the piece is an increased use of left hand playing techniques, which create subtle modifications of the plucked tones.

Yonin no Kai Ensemble - Japan Sankyoku None

    The title of this piece "Hachi dan" ("Eight sections") refers to its being composed according to the traditional "section" (dan) rule. There are 104 beats in each section, grouped into 52 two-time measures; to the first section are added a few supplementary measures to serve as an introduction. The composer, Joshu Yatsuhashi, founded his own school and established the standards of some 17th century musical forms, such as the Kumiuta (vocal suite), and the Danmono (instrumental pieces, to which the present piece belongs), as well as the chords for the instruments involved. The piece presented here can be played as a solo of koto, or as a duet involving either koto and shamisen, or two koto. The latter formation is presented on this disc.


The International Shakuhachi Society - 2017