Workshops by Special Advisor for Cultural Exchange
Master Chieko Fukuda is a professional player of koto and shamisen,
traditional Japanese musical instruments. She is the Special Advisor
for Cultural Exchange, appointed by the Commissioner of the Agency
of Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan.
She was here in Penang to conduct her koto and shamisen workshop
sessions at School of Arts (USM) and Chung Ling National High School
on March 4 and March 5, 2009, respectively.
A koto consists of a six-foot long shallow resonating box made from
Paulownia wood with a set of thirteen strings stretched over adjustable
ivory bridges, while a shamisen is a three-string lute with a fret-less
fingerboard about 38 inches long. These two traditional musical
instruments are used in many Japanese traditional events.
Workshop 1: At School of Arts, Universiti
Sains Malaysia, Penang
Master Fukuda listens attentatively while
an Arts student sings “Seri Mersing”, a Malay folk song. She
says there are similarities in terms of the beauty of folk
songs in the Asian region.
|A student gets a chance to learn to play Sakura song under
the guidance of the Master. She says remembering the notes by
numbers is not helping a player to succeed, but to “feel” the
strings with ears is undeniably vital.
|Master Fukuda explains that the front resonating box is covered
by dog skin while the back one is by cat skin. She says whoever
possesses the shamisen must appreciate the sacrifice of animals
to furnish the instrument to its perfection.
||The story of a young man who seeks shelter in the house of
a young woman from the rain one evening draws laughter. However,
it does convey a message of true love that blossoms under the
good signs of bright sun next morning admist cranes frolicking
on white icy land.
Workshop 2: At Chung Ling National
High School, Penang Island
On another occasion, Master Fukuda had a chance
to hold a Japanese traditional musical workshop with about 60 Chinese
Orchestra members of Chung Ling (National) High School. The interactive
session which lasted for 2 hours had brought the students tremendously
nearer to Japanese traditional musical instruments and the enchanting
sounds produced by them.
|Master Fukuda pays a tribute to the Second World
War Memorial prior to the workshop session.
||The Chinese Orchestra students host a grand welcome for Master
Fukuda with an inspiring ensemble of “The Great Wall”.
||Master Fukuda is also keen to know the similarities and differences
of traditional Japanese musical instruments, especially koto,
with its “counterpart” from China, guzeng.
|Tian Hang Shu, 17, is a fast learner, who can master the sakura
song in five minutes under Master’s guidance. Tian has been
a member of the Chinese Orchestra for four years.
||Solo performance with students as vocalists; while Master
Fukuda plays the koto. The students are singing Sakura song
taught by her.
||The comparison of Japanese koto and Chinese guzeng. The sounds
produced are different, the pitch and the numbers of strings
used are not the same.