Shamisen song list: I'm freaking out


I like your comment about how focusing on playing tunes “correctly” made playing live difficult. Improvisation and knowing that the audience don’t know every note or maybe the song at all in general makes for a much nicer experience for all I think. I will keep that in mind as I am working towards more performances.

Good comments.


To date, I’ve only played the shamisen in a band I play in, and in my house (on my couch) along with the occasional street performance.

I’ve never had to play it in any context where anyone would care what any of it sounds like, so it was interesting to be forced to keep the sound inoffensive. (Honestly, I like offensive things.)

The skin heads are interesting to work with, because you have to control the tones both inside and outside the instrument, it really forces you to be clever with your playing.

As for “correct” playing… will never do that again. Truly painful. Is there a “correct” way to play folk tunes anywhere? Even in rock music I would never do it (not that I play anyone else’s tunes live, ever), not sure what I was thinking.

I felt some pressure to do so, since they told me not to play my own tunes (which I did anyway), but quickly realized that they hadn’t any knowledge of shamisen music, so lucky me.


To answer your rhetorical question about a correct way to play a folk song… the answer is “kinda”!

If you’re trying to do a specific style (say Fujimoto-ryu, or Oyama-ryu) then you want to hit those exact notes, on those exact positions, while keeping your hand that close to the skin.

Gotta get that iikata, you know?


Oh, totally, it depends on what your goals are. I am definitely not poopooing meticulously learning and performing songs.

For me, though, learning songs is merely a way of widening the tool box so to speak. Meticulously learning and being able to perform certain styles is a great way of expanding the resources you have available to you.

Just not certain that I’m destined to be a guy who plays tunes faithfully… or too old, not sure which.

But for folk tunes, sure, one can have as a goal to faithfully reproduce someone’s interpretation of a tune (and that might be fun!), but in the end, they are folk tunes, that is, tunes of the people and everyone might have a novel interpretation for it… which adds to the fun, I think.


Feel you on that, yo.


At one point, I just played Slayer tunes.


Haha! In any case, it is funny to think you played Slayer for this kind of event.