Otsuzumikata (大鼓方)

Otsuzumikata refers to a special duty that is to take charge of an otsuzumi (big drum) in Nogaku-hayashi (Japanese orchestra for Noh performance) or kabuki musical accompaniment. It may also refer to a player of the otsuzumi. An otsuzumi player takes an important role, i.e. leading the rhythm of an entire Nohgaku band when a tune is daishomono (played with three instruments of fue, a Japanese flute, kozutsumi and ozutsumi). See the section of otsuzumi.

The otsuzumi originated from a kotsuzumi (shoulder drum) ensemble. In the beginning, among the drum players of the company, the player of the upper post beat the kotsuzumi and the player of the lower post handled otsuzumi. Therefore, many methods of the Nohgaku otsuzumikata came from the Kotsuzumikata. Moreover, the score is designed so that it may be easy to keep the rhythm. Among the Nogaku performers, otsuzumi players are most shorthanded. Combined with increased stage performances, there is a pressing need to train new players.

In Kabuki, it is mostly used as the narimono (musical instruments) for nagauta-mono (item featuring long epic songs), and plays an important role especially for Matsubamemono and Notorimono (Nogaku style).
(In addition, it may be played in the musicians' box.)
There is always only one otsuzumi player while there are usually at least two kotsuzumi players for kabuki music accompaniment. Its playing style and score are as practically equal as that of Nohgaku theatre musical accompaniment. Today, it is common for otsuzumi players of kabuki to study under an otsuzumi player of Nohgaku theatre although it was not allowed in the Edo period.


Nohgaku theatre: Okura school, Kuzuno school, Ishii school, Takayasu school and Kanze school
Kabuki musical accompaniment: Although there is not clear iemoto system (the system of licensing the teaching of a traditional Japanese art), the whole drum players are stuck together around the successor of Denzaemon TANAKA.

[Original Japanese]