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Percussionists playing frame drums

© DONG-WON KIM

Silk Road Ensemble Instruments
Silk Road Ensemble musicians play a variety of instruments from around the world, some of them as simple as these drums. Some have origins in a single region; the development of others over time illustrates the interactions among cultures along the historical Silk Road.


Shakuhachi

© ALEX NICKOLAUS

"The bore (the interior wind channel of a tube-shaped instrument) of many sophisticated wind instruments made from bamboo may be treated with a sealant to protect it. Such is the case with the Japanese shakuhachi, the bore of which receives several coats of laquer during the course of manufacture."

- MITCHELL CLARK

Shakuhachi

orig. Japan  The shakuhachi is made from the base of a bamboo stalk with holes drilled into the center and the sides. The instrument is played by blowing air across the beveled edge at the top end while covering and uncovering the holes with fingertips.

The shakuhachi has been used in Japanese Zen Buddhist meditation since the 15th century. The sounds produced by the instrument range from soft whispers to strong piercing tones. They are intended to reflect sounds in nature, such as birdcalls, wind and water. Today the shakuhachi is also often played in jazz, orchestral and popular music ensembles.


Hear the instrument
Shakuhachi sound clip »


Shakuhachi players
Kojiro Umezaki


Other wind instruments
Bawu
Clarinet
Duduk
Gaita
Ney
Sheng