July 23rd, 2009

nicki window

adventures in musical instruments: Kokyu

I received my kokyu from ebay and have now received the strings, bridge and bow from a supplier. The strings were easy to figure out how they were tied, but I think the only string that wasn't broken was the wrong string for that position (which may explain why the other two strings were broken when I got it.) I can swap them once I get everything else straightened out. The pictures on line show the bridge much further up than I would have guess. But here's the real problem.

I can't find out anywhere what you put on the bow hairs. It's just horse hair, like any other stringed instrument bow, which implies that I should use rosin, just like any other stringed instrument, but I'm really nervous, especially because I'm afraid of what the rosin dust will do to the leather, which is probably the scariest peice of the kokyu for me to damage. (I don't even know how to rehead a drum, let alone a kokyu.) The internet is not being useful. Even the one and only youtube video of someone playing it has been removed. Most of the pictures are small and don't show all the bits. And if I search on the kanji, I tend to get ehru.

So, I've decided I'm going to document the adventure and try to document as much as I can in English about what I learn about this instrument. I might have to go look up some instrument scholars at berklee or something.