Godai Tsugaru Structure


Hi Bachido!

So, Kevin’s “The Nature of Jongara Bushi” coupled with the Nitta Phrasebook and a couple different preexisting arrangements of the song have been hugely helpful to me in composing my own Jongara Bushi, but I’ve got a question.

The next thing I’m looking to tackle arranging is Tsugaru Yosare Bushi, so I’m wondering about how you all approach the piece’s skeletal structure. And, while on the topic, I’d like your input on the structures for the rest of the godai minyo (Ohara Bushi, Sansagari, Aiya Bushi) as well.

Thanks for your help!


Could you send something from YouTube (or MP£ files)? Maybe someone could help better


Hi Sakura,
It’s not really a question a video would help, I think.

I’m just wondering how people like to approach the structure of the different godai tsugaru. Basically, what makes one yosare bushi and another yosare bushi still yosare bushi and not something else even if they sound really different.


Ian, that’s a really great question. I’ve done a breakdown of aiya bushi on YouTube. I’ve been looking to do one for Yosare bushi for quite some time as well. The important thing here is to familiarize yourself with these peices as “Songs” rather than solo instrumental peices. Take Yosare bushi for example. Without being intimately versed in the actual song itself listening to different shamisen players can potentially be downright confusing. Especially if you are coming from a western musical mind (as in based in european classical or even jazz, pop or rhythm & blues from America). But once you get what’s happening it becomes apparent that everyone is creating a kind of original & spontaneous abstraction of the song through improvisation and references to specific cadences specific to the song (wether jongara, yosare, Ohara, San Sagari , aiya or whichever etc.). Since music is a hearing art the best way to “Get” this is by listening. First listen intensely to the song itself. Over and over if need be. Then go out on a musical adventure to listen to all the various players and check out what they are doing. The Tsugaru Shamisen spirit dictates that each player be unique, different, original and so you will hear tons of variation from player to player and that, in essence is the fun of it all. The true joy of this style of music is that it’s never played the same. So learning to embrace that is part of the journey. I guess if one were to make a metaphor you could describe a type of storytelling. Let’s say we have a basic theme which is like a robber who steals from rich people to feed hungry children in his hometown. In one story the hero could be robbing trains in the wild west. In another the hero could be more like robin hood of the olden days in Europe. Another could be a ronin samurai who roams the ancient world of Edo period Japan. Etc. Each of these is essentially the same story but with noticeable variations and details which cause each to stand alone on their own. It’s kind of like that. The song of Yosare bushi can be “Felt” if not even heard (in the case of direct quotes of the vocal melody). The central theme, beat, vibe and feel of the performance will resonate as “Yosare bushi” but each interpretation can potentially lead the listener off into a variety of different musical landscapes. Anyway I gotta wrap this up with that. Hope that helps.


That was amazing, thank you! Honestly that was exactly what I was looking for!
Well, just wow :stuck_out_tongue: that cleared p whatever confusion I was having, thank you again Kevin Sensei!


That was amazing, thank you! Honestly that was exactly what I was looking for! I’ll definitely use that Aiya bushi one and I look forward to the yosare bushi one!
Well, just wow :stuck_out_tongue: that cleared up whatever confusion I was having, thank you again Kevin Sensei!

Edit: oops, double posted! Sorry bout that.


I guess, in a certain sense, shamisen players have also the ability to compose/improvise, but please don’t wet! I don’t play shamisen ahah, and don’t know much about minyo!