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Shakuhachi music notation

Here’s a YouTube video about the notation used for Shakuhachi music. I’d always assumed that the Western notation system was used everywhere, but apparently not. Shakuhachi music is written in traditional tategaki style (i.e., top-to-bottom and right-to-left), and uses the katakana characters ロ, ツ, レ, チ and リ to represent the notes, plus メ to indicate where notes are to be flattened. Very interesting.

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Header image: Ema (絵馬; votive plaque) at Kamigamo Shrine (上賀茂神社) in Kyoto. The characters 必勝 (hisshō; literally “certain victory”) suggest this was put up by a student preparing for entrance exams or job interviews. Photo: Frank Gualtieri.

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