NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

ca 1600 __ Suikinkutsu
Comment : A suikinkutsu (水琴窟 literally "water koto cave") is a type of Japanese garden ornament and music device. It consists of an upside down buried pot with a hole at the top. Water drips through the hole at the top onto a small pool of water inside of the pot, creating a pleasant splashing sound that rings inside of the pot similar to a bell or a Japanese zither called koto. It is usually built next to a traditional Japanese stone basin called chozubachi, part of a tsukubai for washing hands before the Japanese tea ceremony. There are a number of modern variations form the traditional suikinkutsu. the list below shows some of the possibilities for modern suikinkutsu. a) Modern suikinkutsu are not always located next to a chozubachi as traditionally required. b) Suikinkutsu can also be built with a continuous stream of water for a continuous suitekion sound instead of the ryusuion and suitekion alteration (see below). c) Metal suikinkutsu are also available nowadays. d) Some above ground devices similar to a suikinkutsu have also been installed, for example as part of sculptures. e) Suikinkutsu are also installed indoors. f) Commercial venues (restaurants, shops, and also offices) may have the sound of the indoor or outdoor suikinkutsu amplified electronically and played through speakers. g) An additional pipe may also be installed to convey the sound from the cavity in the suikinkutsu to another location, e.g. indoors. Historically, suikinkutsu were known as tosuimon (Japanese: 洞水門), but they were rarely used in Japanese gardens. It is believed that initially a vessel was buried upside down next to the washing basin in Japanese gardens to act as a drainage system. This sometimes produced pleasant sounds, and gardeners subsequently sought to improve the sound quality of the device. Their rise in popularity and the name suikinkutsu originated from the middle of the Edo period (1603-1867), around the same time the stone basin chozubachi was developed. The famous tea ceremony teacher Kobori Enshu of that time had a suikinkutsu in his garden, and he is subsequently often credited as the inventor of suikinkutsu. At the end of the Edo period, the creation of suikinkutsu became less frequent, but became popular again during the Meiji Era (1867-1912). At the beginning of the 20th century, i.e. the early Showa period, both the name suikinkutsu and the device were all but forgotten, and a report of Professor Katsuzo Hirayama at the Tokyo University of Agriculture from 1959 could find only two suikinkutsu in Japan, both of them inoperable and filled with earth. However, a journalist from the Asahi Shimbun wrote about suikinkutsu in 1982, and requested information from the public about the topic. This led to a re-discovery of many suikinkutsu, and a number of articles about suikinkutsu in the Asahi Shimbun. Shortly thereafter, in 1985, NHK aired a program about suikinkutsu on Japanese television, and sparked a suikinkutsu revival, with many new suikinkutsu installed. The sound of a suikinkutsu has its own name in Japanese, called suikinon. the sounds can furthermore be divided in two sub groups, ryusuion and suitekion. The ryusuion is the sound of the first few water drops at the beginning of washing hands. The suitekion describes both the sound of a lot of water falling at the same time during washing hands and the slower drops at the end of the washing. A superior suikinkutsu has water drops originating from different spots on the surface of the jar. Unglazed jars hold moisture better, and therefore have drops originate from more spots on the surface. The impact of the water on the surface creates a sound, that is amplified by the design of the jar. Some suikinkutsu do provide a bamboo tube nearby, which can amplify the sounds if one end is put on the ground near the top of the suikinkutsu and the other end is placed on the ear. It is said that every suikinkutsu sounds different. An important part of the idea behind the suikinkutsu is that the device is hidden from the view. Instead, the visitor washes his/her hands, and suddenly hears the pleasant sounds coming from underground. The act of washing the hands can also be considered as playing the suikinkutsu, and the sounds emerge shortly after the washing. This clear sound of water drops is considered relaxing and soothing, and also described as beautiful and peaceful. (Compiled from various sources)
French comment : Suikinkutsu signifie littéralement cithare japonaise de l'eau dans une grotte, à cause de la mystérieuse sons émis par les gouttelettes d'eau tombant dans un pot en céramique de métro. Suikinkutsu dates de 400 ans au début de l'ère Edo et l'on dit être à l'origine par degined Kobori Enshu, un jardinier célèbre et Chagin ou d'une personne pratiquant du thé japonaise, et a été placé dans des jardins traditionnels japonais depuis. Le Suikinkutsu, instrument de terre de bambou et d’eau qui ponctue la vie des moines bouddhistes au Japon, est une sorte de jarre en terre cuite en partie enterrée et au dessus de laquelle coule de l’eau. Lorsqu’on se lave les mains , une partie de l’eau suinte au travers d’un trou et tombe au fond de la jarre provoquant une sonorité aquatique et au débit aléatoire. Depuis des temps lointains, le SUIKINKUTSU agrémente certains temples et jardins japonais. Une poterie non vernissée dont le fond est percé d’un trou est placée à l’envers puis enterrée. Le son de gouttes d’eau qui passent par le trou et tombent dans une petite quantité d’eau résonne agréablement à l’intérieur de la poterie. (Compiled from various sources)
Urls : http://www.maxisciences.com/bruit/suikinkutsu-a-matsuyama_vid1117177.html (last visited ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16mcm_9M-ko (last visited ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEVKSOUiw0M (last visited ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9qAZnwNSys (last visited )

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