Movement, storytelling and song - what does folk music tell us about a country?
Watch the following short video overview by the composer, Tracy Burjan discussing Issunboshi:
Watch the following short video overview of the teaching points:
Listen and follow the animated score:
Listen to the full performance:
Listen to the backing track:
This song is based upon a folk tale from Japan called the One Inch Fellow. It was rewritten into a children’s book called The Inch Boy by Japanese visual artist and author Junko Morimoto. As a survivor of the atomic bomb drop on Hiroshima, she also wrote My Hiroshima and The Two Bullies.
In summary, the story of The Inch Boy is about an old couple who wanted a child. They made a wish and stated that they didn’t care if he was one-inch tall. Eventually they did get a child and he only grew to be one inch. They named him Issunboshi which meant One Inch Boy.
After some time Issunboshi decided he wanted to see the world. His parents gave him a bowl, chopsticks and a needle that he could use as a sword to protect himself. Issunboshi went to the city and was taken in by a nobleman to be a servant for a princess.
One day they went out and were stopped by a large green demon called an Oni. Issunboshi acted quickly. He climbed the Oni and poked it in the tongue with his sword and the princess was saved. To thank Issunboshi, the princess made a wish for him to grow. Gradually he grew to be a full-sized man. The pair were married, and they lived together happily ever after.
Listen and follow a reading of the story The Inch Boy:
The instruments featured include a:
The shamisen literally means three strings. It is a three-stringed traditional Japanese musical instrument derived from the Chinese instrument sanxian. It is played with a plectrum or pick called a bachi.
The shakuhachi is a Japanese end-blown bamboo flute. It was originally introduced from China into Japan in the 6th or 7th centuries.
The instrument is tuned to the minor pentatonic scale. This is a 5-note scale such as E G A B D:
This resource and associated activities is available in Word format for you to download and print: