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An explanation of the use of pentatonic scales in Japanese music, demonstrated by the shakuhachi flute. Includes an extract from a performance of 'Shika No Tohne' which describes a scene in deep autumn when the voice of the male deer calls for the female. The shakuhachi player, Clive Bell, explains Japanese music is based on the use of pentatonic scales. The player uses only a limited number of notes, but there are many other aspects to his playing. Every player has their own distinctive style. Bell favours a breathy tone and makes considerable use of bending notes up and down in pitch.
This clip is from:
First broadcast:
21 September 1992

Classroom Ideas

Students use the pentatonic scale to create their own compositions, inspired by the traditional Japanese music shown in the clip. This could be further developed by experimenting with alternative ways of using their instruments, such as varying breathing techniques or using alternative methods of playing them.

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