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Question69  How many times does the call bell ring?

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Usually in Noh theatres, including the National Noh Theatre, a call rings when everything is ready for the performance. Then you hear flutes, small and large tabors, and drums played briefly behind the entrance curtain. This is called o-shirabe (tuning).

Though o-shirabe has a certain manner, it is not considered a performance of a musical piece. The performers play their instruments for final fine-tuning. Such sounds from the back stage are not seen as a blunder. They even have a dramatic effect, letting the audience know the performance is beginning very soon. Before the empty stage, the call is a signal for people to sit down, while the tuning is a switch for them to open to the world of Noh.

(Sep 18, 2009)


illustration : Hiroko Sakaki
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