BiwaVocab for Satsuma-Biwa

Sound Information System by Junko Ueda

About the Biwa Vocab

The Biwa Vocab is a vocabulary catalogue of the Satsuma-Biwa (Japanese lute). Here you can find information about various playing techniques, about the notation and tuning system, the instrument as well as its history. Also, the Biwa Vocab offers you a collection of sound samples of the various playing styles. The Biwa Vocab has been created for anyone interested in the Satsuma-Biwa. However, especially composers, who interest to compose for the Satsuma-Biwa and like to know more about the instrument, are invited to use this Vocab.
This Biwa Vocab has been divided into three main sections, namely Satsuma-Biwa, Traditional and Contemporary. Each section has various sub-sections, which become visible after you click on a main section title.

Section 1: Satsuma-Biwa
Here, you can find general information about the Satsuma-Biwa. Also, its history and the notation system are introduced. This notation system is also used in the Biwa Vocab for explaining various techniques.

Section 2: Traditional
Here the traditional tuning, possible pitches and playing styles are introduced. Various techniques are explained by note samples as well as sound samples.

Section 3: Contemporary
In this third section, the contemporary tuning, range and playing styles are introduced. Also here are various techniques explained by note samples as well as sound samples.

About Author

Junko Ueda, born in Tokyo, Japan, is Japanese singer and Satsuma-Biwa player, presenting Japanese traditional Biwa music (story-telling) and shômyô Buddhist chanting. Also, she is specialized to perform the pieces of Japanese composer Tôru Takemitsu and contributing for new compositions e.g. by Jean-Claude Eloy, Qu Xiaosong, Akemi Naito, Keiko Harada, Daryl Jamieson and Wil Offermans. Ueda studied Satsuma-Biwa with the famous Kinshi Tsuruta and Buddhist shômyô-chanting with Kôshin Ebihara. She studied piano and composition (under Reiko Arima, Jôji Yuasa, Sei Ikeno) at the Tokyo College of Music. Since 1988, Ueda has based in Europe (Amsterdam, Holland and Granada, Spain) and has been giving Biwa/voice concert and shômyô (Japanese Buddhist chanting) vocal workshop in numerous situations and at music festivals. Her traditional Biwa CDs 'Heike Monogatari' (CD650 VDE/AIMP Geneva) and 'Satsuma Biwa' (ARN64577 Arion, Paris / Ethnomad, Geneva) received several prizes e.g. the Grand Prix du Disque, Academie Charles Cros, Paris and Choc Le Monde de la Musique, Paris.


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This site is made for providing information about Satsuma-Biwa. However, the text, sound samples and photos on this site are not allowed to be copied, used or multiplied in any way without permission.