this year is my first year of buying a shamisen. I haven’t seen up close techniques on how to structure my fingers on the strings for notes. I have a very basic self learned to strum with the bachi and a hard time with plucking my fingers of the neck of the shamisen. guidance for learning is a glorious blessing for me, and them who have my current stage of playing. I love playing my Shakuhachi, self taught, in my few an easier instrument to play. the Shamisen is a dream come true for myself. ano, nihon wa daiski desu.
I’m not entirely sure if you’re talking about fingering the tsubo (positions), gripping the sao (neck), or using left hand techniques (uchi, suriage, etc) - so I’ll give you a bit of a primer in general.
First, you’ll want the shamisen to be supported by the friction of your arm and thigh. There should be virtually no weight on your left hand to ensure you can easily move up and down the neck. If you’re playing tsugaru or min’yo, you will primarily use your index, middle, and ring fingers to both finger positions and perform left hand techniques. Which finger to use depends on the sound you want, the traditional fingering of the piece, and ease of play.
Most fingering is done with the fleshy tip of your finger - however, you’ll switch to the nail whenever you play on the third string (the thinnest) with your index finger. This will produce a cleaner, clearer tone.
Identifying the positions themselves can be difficult without keen ears or a fujaku (position marker) - but there’s a few positions that can be located with just your eyes. The first positions is right at the top of the neck, just below the tenjin (head). If you have a mitsuori (three piece) neck, the fourth position will be at join closest the tenjin. The tenth position will be at the joint closest the dou (body).
For me at least, this is enough to figure out different positions. Placing my index finger on 1 means my middle finger lands pretty cleanly on 2. Placing my ring finger on 4 lands my index finger on 3. Placing my index finger on 4 lands my ring finger on 6. Placing my index finger on six lands my middle finger on 7 and my ring finger on 8 (or 9 with a little stretch). You’ll need to try and see how your own hands relate.
For reference material, take a look at the following:
True blessings for me to observe this video.
I seen that some strings at only a few times on the sao were bent with fingers for solid tone notes.
Sent on my Assurance Samsung Galaxy Phone.