Skin taugtness, high vs low pitch


#1

So I was asked by the shamisen guy to specify how tight I want them to so the skin. I haven’t had this choice before, so I just said high pitch sound, but I was wondering what everyone prefers.

I think older recordings are much lower pitched. Also, do you think a lower pitch has more resonance?


#2

The pitch is determined exclusively by string tension; the tension of the skin only affects the timbre, or tone, of the instrument. Basically tighter is better for the standard desired crisp timbre, but it can mean a shorter life for the skins. Especially in countries where the temperature and humidity differences between summer and winter are great, this might add up in terms of how often you need to get new skins. At least that’s what shamisen stores in Japan have told me.


#3

The master over at Sansuien near Nagoya said the same to me.

Sharper, cleaner timbre comes from a tight skinning. Whether that’s preferable or not is a matter of taste, I think. It’s definitely common on the pro and tournament scene.

Personally, I prefer a little more warmth.


#4

Ahh yeah, perhaps pitch was the wrong term. But I feel the pitch of the tataku, not the strings, is affected by tightness.

Profession scene does use high tension, my teacher recommends it too, but honestly like ChristopherBrown I prefer the warmth of the older recordings.