BiwaVocab for Satsuma-Biwa

Sound Information System by Junko Ueda

The Contemporary Tuning

In contrast to the traditional tuning, usually a contemporary tuning is written in an absolute system. While there are endless possibilities, here we focus on a frequently used contemporary tuning: D-E-A-E, as used by composers like Tôru Takemitsu, Akemi Naitô and Keiko Harada. In the table below, the vertical columns indicate the strings numbered from 1 till 4. The horizontal rows indicate the frets: at the top is the open string while further down you can see the 'Chû' (fret) numbered from 1 till 5. In this way, the table shows which notes can be played for each fret position and each string. Here, the black notes require a light pressure by the left hand finger. The grey notes require a stronger finger pressure. Consequently, the highest notes at each position have a relatively tense sound. Also, it is rather difficult to play fast passages when jumping among grey notes at different positions. To support the low sound, the traditional 1st string is replaced by an extra thick one.

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A contemporary tuning: D-E-A-E

Open Strings
Here you can hear the open string sound of the contemporary tuning: D-E-A-E.
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Basic Notes

1st String
First you hear the open string sound followed by the notes where the left hand fingers are placed softly on Chû 1 until 5.
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2nd String
Again, first you hear the open string sound followed by the notes where the left hand fingers are placed softly on Chû 1 until 5.
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3rd String
Again, first you hear the open string sound followed by the notes where the left hand fingers are placed softly on Chû 1 until 5.
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4th String
Again, first you hear the open string sound followed by the notes where the left hand fingers are placed softly on Chû 1 until 5.
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Pitch bending on basic notes

Pitch bending on 1st string
Like above, first you hear the open string sound followed by the notes of position Chû 1 until 5. However, this time each note is performed with a pitch bending up respectively down. The recording demonstrates the approximate highest possible pitch with each fret.
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Pitch bending on 2nd string
First you hear the open string sound followed by the notes of position Chû 1 until 5. However, this time each note is performed with a pitch bending up respectively down. The recording demonstrates the approximate highest possible pitch with each fret.
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Pitch bending on 3rd string
Again, each note is performed with a pitch bending up respectively down.
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Pitch bending on 4th String
Again, each note is performed with a pitch bending up respectively down.
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