Modern Blends ~ Georgia on my Mind, with Traditional Japanese Instruments [Hichiriki (篳篥)]


Hello and welcome all. Today I want to look at another video from the NHK Blends series, a fantastic series which featured traditional Japanese instruments either alone or in combination with Western instruments, playing modern western songs.

This will be the third part of this series. In part one, we saw the kokyū (胡弓) and the nijugogen koto (二十五絃箏) playing "Misirlou", and in part two we looked at the shakuhachi (尺八) play Welcome to the Jungle with two different types of koto (箏).

Today, let's look at the hichiriki (篳篥).

Photo from Wikipedia

This is a bamboo flute with a double reed (like an oboe) and an internal structure similar to a clarinet. It is said to be difficult to play and extremely difficult to master. It is probably most often heard at Shinto weddings, and if you have ever watched a Shinto wedding you will instantly recognize the haunting sound of the hichiriki. It is also often played at traditional poetry recitations.

In this video they are playing "Georgia on My Mind". The song was written by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell, but is most often associated with Ray Charles.

This is an incredible rendition of it! The haunting hichiriki sound fits it almost perfectly. See if you agree!

That hat that the player is wearing, by the way, appears to be a type of eboshi (烏帽子), which was a style of hat worn by nobles and later with samurai. They can still be seen today at Shinto shrines and ceremonies. I'm far from an expert, but this looks like what was called the hikitate-eboshi (引立烏帽子) which was not lacquered (or only lightly lacquered) and so remained pliable.

Hi there! David LaSpina is an American photographer and translator lost in Japan, trying to capture the beauty of this country one photo at a time and searching for the perfect haiku.

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