Another string instrument

Traditionally, musicians from the kangen orchestra do perform any repertoire from gagaku’s three main bodies of music and dance. A different string instrument is also used in these works, the wagon.



This is a six-string koto of trapezoidal shape. It is approximately 190 cm long and 15 cm wide at its head and 24 cm wide at its tail (75 inches long and 6 inches wide at its head and 9.5 inches wide at its tail). It is used primarily for the accompaniment of kuniburi-no-utamai.


Figure 1


The wagon sounds as written, and it is tuned to an A-430Hz. The strings are numbered from the lowest (first string, the outer one to the highest (sixth string, the inner one). Like the koto it has movable bridges (not shown in Figure 1) under the strings that allows for two different tunings shown in Figure 2.The player holds a small plectrum in the right hand and plays rapid arpeggios across the strings. The left hand either pluck single strings or dampens five of the strings so that only one if left ringing after the production of an arpeggio.


Two tunings of the wagon

Figure 2