Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Transverse.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.121.12
Region: Far East Asia.
Description: The nokkan [in Japanese, Kanji 能管] is a high pitched, Japanese bamboo transverse flute or fue [笛]. It is commonly used in traditional Imperial Noh and Kabuki theatre. The nohkan flute was created by Kan’ami and his son Zeami in the 15th century, during the time when the two were transforming the Noh theatre forms Dengaku and Sarugaku.
Construction: The nohkan or fue’ [flute] is made of split and tapered strips of smoked bamboo [susudake] or burned bamboo [yakidake], glued together to form a tapering conical bore. The smoking carbonizes the bamboo and preserves it. The split strips of bamboo are reversed to place the hard bamboo surface on the inside for improved acoustics.
Some modern versions of nohkan use an interior coating of tempera paint for this. The strips are then glued together, bound with thin strips of twisted cherry bark [kabamaki] and lacquered to make the conical tube. The result is a keyless tube of 39.1 cm with an average bore width of 1.7 cm and there are 7 finger holes.
Citations: Bibliography: Ethnomusicology, Vol. 9, No. 3 [Sep. 1965], pp. 221–239 ;