- Tonkori. It is plucked zither-like string of five strings. It is carved for a single piece of wood. Size may change depending of the maker. It may measure aproximately 120x10,5x3 cm. There are two bridges. Nowadays the strings are the same as in the shamisen. Usually are tuning, respectively, from 1st to 5th string, in F, C, G, D, A. The opening strings-pitches are used. The strings are plucked with both hands playing arpeggios or strumming all the strings together. It was obsolete in the 1970's, but there is a strong revival thanks to the musician Oki (see below). For european ears, the sound would remind a celtic harp.
- Pararayki. It is used by the kuril Ainu. It has three strings and comes from the russian balalaika.
- Mukkuri. It’s a jew’s harp made of bamboo. It is similar to other jew’s harps that are played in south-east Asia. It is usually played by woman. It usually measures about 10x1,5 cm. The player vibrate the tongue-like by snapping the attached string with sudden movements of the hand, thus allowing to resonate the sound in the oral cavity. The player usually imitates natural sounds, imagine nature in motion or animals. Nowadays it is very easy to find in Hokkaido since it is sold as a tourist item.
- Straw flutes
- Pehkutu. reed-stalk pipe
- Coiled-bark horns
- Kaco. It is one membrane skin rounded frame drum, quite similar that those played for Siberian shamans http://haruhitaniguchi.com/japaneseframedrums-e.htmPicture from The Ainu Museum, Shiraoi, Hokkaido
MUSIC OF TONKORI. The most famous contemporary performer of Ainu music is the the revivalist KANNO OKI who plays the tonkori. He deserve the recognition of having approach the Ainu music to the young generation. He has published several traditional CD and have mixed the tonkori with modern instruments and rhythms. His discography is the following:
1. Kamuy kor nupurpe. Released in 1996 and 2001. He adapt Ainu music playing tonkori, guitar and chants to acomplish a rock, reggae and pop nice mix.
2. Hankapuy. Released in 1999. It the album collaborated the late Umeko Ando and Kazutoki Umezo (with percussion and sax). It could be described as Ainu new-age style-like music.
1. Oki Dub Ainu Band. Released in 2006
2. Dub Ainu Deluxe. Follow-up of the previous album. Released in 2006.
3. Dub Ainu Band Live in Japan 2007. Released in 2007
These albums reflect what Oki plays in the live shows: rhythmic phrases of tonkori, bass and percussion with some Senegalese and dub Hirohisa arrangements in some songs.
An interesting CD of Ainu jew's harp is "Mukkuri Hawahe. Sounds of Mukkuri Jew's Harp and Vocal Music of the Ainu". It contains 31 songs with a total duration time of almost 56 min. It was produced by Leo Tatagawa in 2001. I met him in 2008 in Abakan, Russia. A very gently guy!!. He is the president of the Japan Jew's Harp Association who has published several jew's harp albums of Siberian musician (Yakutia, Kyrgystan and Khakassia). If you read japanese check his web: http://koukin.jp/. This CD can be obtained directly from Tatagawa's page or thru Danmoi http://www.danmoi.de.