Noh TriviaQuestion and Answer

Question64  How many fue (flutes) does a fuekata (flute player) have in a lifetime?


While it is typically said that musical ability is more quickly acquired from a young age, in nohgaku few hayashikata practice the fue (or, nōkan) from childhood. The nōkan has seven finger holes used to produce sounds from low to high registers, and is difficult to practice for small children because of their small hands.

It is said that a fuekata “has three fue in a lifetime.” This is believed to be because the fue must be changed with the age of the player to match their changing body. The fue is changed when the player is around ten years old, again at 30, and again at 60. It may be changed more often depending on the person.

The nōkan is a unique instrument in that it is not tuned so every player plays on the same scale, and the spacing of the finger holes and intervals are different for each instrument. Not only the skill of the player, but changes in their body and the qualities of the instrument itself come together to produce a sound unique to the stage and an exciting melody.

(Jul 17, 2009)

illustration : Hiroko Sakaki

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