三味線 (しゃみせん)

3-string Japanese lute played with a plectrum or bachi; favorite accompaniment to min’yō (Japanese folk songs); also used in Kabuki orchestras and as principal accompaniment to Bunraku chanters; three sizes = futo-zao (‘thick-necked’), chu-zao or naka-zao (‘medium-necked’), and hoso-zao (‘thin-necked’); heads are made of either cat or dog skin; material and playing style vary regionally, e.g. Tsugaru shamisen is noted for its fast, intricate playing and large, heavy instrument


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