Tsugaru music is a style originating in the Tsugaru region of the Aomori prefecture
in the northernmost tip of Honshu, Japan
Tsugaru is a style of shamisen
music traditionally played by beggars. Tsugaru shamisen are slightly larger than the average shamisen. They are stringed instruments and use cat or dog skin
to reverberate (plastic is also available, but word on the street is it sounds lousy).
Additionally, Tsugaru is wholly improvisational. As the first to play it were blind, a system for writing the notes was never devised (Almost all Japanese instruments
have their own notation
). For this reason, many have likened it to jazz
. In fact, many of the more famous Tsugaru performers have appeared with jazz musicians.
It is also worth noting that it is a very vivid
style of music. There is no real set tempo for songs (in fact, BPM
changes mid-song are a popular feature). The characteristic high notes of the music are said to represent the howling
of the soul from living in the Tsugaru region, notorious for its harsh winters.
plays this music, is not bad, and has MP3s legally available on the Internet. Check them out