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Great news for musicians everywhere!
The traditional sound of Japanese Kabuki and Noh is about to enter the digital realm. We are in the programming stage, and the library should be out within the year. Before its release, we would like to give you an idea of what this sound library will contain and how we have been putting it together.

kbk noh

More than 50 Kabuki and Noh Percussion instruments in one pack

We have recorded more than 50 essential instruments for this library. From the Noh hayashi flute-and-drums ensemble, we sampled the kotsuzumi (an hourglass-shaped hand drum), the otsuzumi (a large hand drum), shime-daiko (a pitched drum), the Noh flute, and various kakegoe calls (yo and ho calls). And we selected the most necessary percussive “noisemakers” to any Kabuki performance, including the odaiko (a large drum), daibyoshi (a short-bodied drum), okedoh (a barrel drum), mamedaiko (a small twin drum set), uchiwadaiko (a “fan” drum), atarigane (a saucer-shaped gong), konchiki (another round bell), soban (a smaller gong), ekiro (a doughnut-shaped horse bell), music boxes, hontsurigane (a large bell), dora (a gong), and mokugyo (an ornate wooden gong). These have been paired with ashibyoshi foot beats and tsukeuchi sound-effect clappers that add drama to a powerful Kabuki performance.

We were extremely fortunate to have someone as renowned as Takinojo Mochizuki perform these instruments for our recording sessions. Without his precise mastery of these instruments and his vibrant, lively playing style, we could have never reproduced the diverse expressiveness these instruments are capable of.

The voices of the kotsuzumi captured for the first time ever

The kotsuzumi (an hourglass-shaped hand drum) contains myriad expressions. The library captures the full range of its voices, from crisp hand taps to detailed portamento slides.

Recreates the famed spooky passages

The odaiko can express the wind, snow, water, and other natural elements and even the inner thoughts and feelings of the actors on stage. It can even imitate the spookiness of a ghost’s entrance.

Our collection features odaiko performances played with nagabachi (long, tapered sticks for sound effects) and yukibai (a special stick to imitate the sound of snow), giving music producers the scope to recreate nearly every sound of the odaiko.

The clatter and rattle of Kabuki

The library includes the tsukeuchi sound-effect clappers that heighten the actor’s dramatic poses and the ashibyoshi foot beats that match the dance steps.

Noh flute phrases and kakegoe calls

We recorded numerous Noh flute phrases and the “iyoh” and “ho” calls of the ensemble players, which are essential to the nagauta (long epic songs) that form the basis of Noh and Kabuki performances.

All extra room ambience removed

The recording was done in an anechoic room similar to the bamboo-curtained orchestra room where the instruments are played in a Kabuki theater. Reverb can be added where needed because the recordings preserve true character of the instrument’s sound.

Average of 60 velocity layers

A complete range of velocity expressions is assured for each instrument, ranging from 20 layers for the simplest instruments to 99 for the most complex.

High-end microphones and microphone amp

To record sounds with the true essence of Japanese music, we used well-kept U 47 and U 67 condenser microphones and the RCA 44BX and 77DX ribbon microphones. And a vintage NEVE 5315 amp translated the microphone signals to the board.

Thanks for reading. We’ll have more exciting news in the coming months.
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