Tsuzumi

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Tsuzumi.

The tsuzumi (?) is a Japanese drum of Chinese/Indian origin. It consists of a wooden body shaped like an hourglass, and it is taut, with two drum heads with cords that can be squeezed or released to increase or decrease the tension of the heads respectively. This mechanism allows the player to raise or lower the pitch of the drum while playing, not unlike the African talking drum.

Care for this instrument is peculiar in that the drum heads must be exposed to moisture to produce a desirable sound. Before playing the tsuzumi, the player will breathe very close to the head that will be struck. Sometimes he will even take some saliva and apply it to the head of the drum. The quality of sound of the drum will depend on how much moisture is in the atmosphere where it is being played. To make sure the drum heads are moist, the player will breathe into the drum head at intervals when he is not playing.

The tsuzumi plays roles in both Noh and kabuki theater music, but it is also used in min'yō (民謡?), or Japanese folk music. It is often played with its bigger counterpart, the ōtsuzumi (大鼓?) (lit. large tsuzumi; also called ōkawa (大革??, lit. "large skin") ). Thus the tsuzumi is also referred to as the kotsuzumi (小鼓 also called shōko?), or "small tsuzumi."

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