BiwaVocab for Satsuma-Biwa

Sound Information System by Junko Ueda

Some Plucking and Striking Techniques

Here some techniques of plucking the strings and/or striking the main body.

Pluck with the right hand fingers

Plucking with fingers (Tsuma-biki)
Pluck the strings with the fingers of the right hand.
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Push string against main body and pluck
Push the string against the body ('Hara-ita') with the left hand fingers and pluck with the right hand finger. It is used in for example 'Voice & Noise' composed by Wil Offermans.
Bartok pizzicato
Pull the strings up and release from there. Similar to the Bartok pizzicato effect.

Pluck with handle of the plectrum

Pluck with plectrum handle
Pluck the string with the handle of the plectrum. The handle of the plectrum ('Bachi') is called 'Bachi-o'.
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Pluck and strike with plectrum handle
Pluck the string with the handle of the plectrum, while striking the main body (Hara-ita) as well.
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Pluck and strike with plectrum handle: sample
In this fragment from ‘November Steps’ composed by Tôru Takemitsu, you can listen the plectrum handle technique.
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Special plucked sounds

Twisted strings
The 2nd and 3rd string are twisted with the left hand fingers and plucked with the plectrum. This sonority is for example used in ‘Passacaglia’ composed by Keiko Harada.
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Harmonics
It is possible to play various harmonics by touching the string softly at some specific points. In this sample, the string is touched exactly in the middle, evoking the first harmonic (octave).
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Nail fretting
With your left hand located above the main body, push down a string with a finger nail but without the string touching the main body. Now, the string is plucked with the plectrum. This technique is used in ‘Eclipse’ as well as ‘November Steps’ composed by Tôru Takemitsu.
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Strike on body

Soft strike with Bachi on body (Utsu)
To strike the Hara-ita softly with the tip of the plectrum. It is usually indicated by 'Su'.
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Stronger strike with Bachi on body (Hataki)
To strike stringer the Hara-ita with the plectrum.
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Strong strike followed by arpeggio
To hit strongly the Hara-ita before performing an arpeggio. This is the same technique as the Body hitting accent before arpeggio mentioned in the traditional section under Arpeggio. However, we can perform this technique on an alternative tuning to create a special sound.
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Stronger strike followed by single rubbing
Combination of striking the body (Hataki) and rubbing the strings once (Suri single), followed by an open string sound. This fragment is used in ‘Passacaglia’, composed by Keiko Harada.
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