There are three types of
shamisen: futo-zao ('thick-necked'), chu-zao or
naka-zao ('medium-necked'), and hoso-zao ('thin-necked').
True to its name, the futo-zao shamisen is the
largest and lowest pitched of the three types,
for which reason it is made use of in gidayu-bushi,
which requires singing from the lower abdomen,
and it produces a very powerful timbre. Unlike
other types of accompaniment, the shamisen used
in gidayu-bushi must "play the strings of the
heart." Just as the chanter, when reciting, places
more importance on expressing the feelings of
the tale than on musicality, it is important for
the shamisen player too to fill his playing with
the "heart" of the piece, and also to assist the
chanter in his recitation. But even if it produces
exceptionally beautiful tones, or allows us to
listen to the freshness of the dexterous use of
its large plectrum, the futo-zao shamisen produces
a type of music whose feeling is quite different
from joruri, and is not proper as the gidayu shamisen.
For that reason, the ideal is that the shamisen
player must become one in spirit with the chanter.
Unlike with the recitation, which is expressed
through words, with the shamisen, it requires
extremely difficult techniques to express human
emotions through a single tonal color. That is
why even a first-time theatergoer who listens
to a shamisen master cannot help but come away
filled with emotion.