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Kotsuzumi (小鼓)

The percussion instrument used by the kotsuzumikata, literally “small drum.” Also known simply as “drum.” The top and bottom drum faces, made of horse leather, are connected with a hemp cord called shirabeo on each end of the thin, hourglass-shaped body. The shape is similar to the ōtsuzumi (“large drum”) – the kotsuzumi is simply smaller. The kotsuzumi is placed on the right shoulder with the shirabeo held in the left hand, and sound is produced by beating the drum with the right hand in the middle of the bottom of the drum face. The instrument produces a range on sounds from soft to hard, and the sound quality can be changed by adjusting the tension of the drum face by tightening or loosening the shirabeo with the left hand, and changing how the drum is beat with the right hand. As humidity also largely affects the sound quality, players may spit on the drum during a performance or place a dampened “adjusting paper” over the drum face to adjust the tone. Many of the bodies are painted with the maki-e technique, and on the undersides can often be seen the kanname, a term for the remnants of the carving of the inside of the drum. As the kanname are unique to the individual craftsmen, and because of this they are also used in appraising old drums. Current kotsuzumi schools include the Ōkura, Kanze, Kō and Kōsei schools.

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