The Yomiuri ShimbunTsugaru shamisen player Chie Hanawa incorporates her traditional stringed instrument, which originates in the Tsugaru area of Aomori Prefecture, into a wide range of music from rock and jazz to classical pieces on her new album released on the King label, “Hello, World.”
Hanawa chooses specific themes for her regular concerts, such as rock, anime and Latin America.
“I chose the songs that received a favorable response from the [concert] audiences,” she said of the album’s track listing.
The tracks include Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze,” which was recorded for the album with a trio of shamisen, piano and organ. The arrangement creates a chaotic atmosphere yet maintains the psychedelic feel of the original.
Her rendition of the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” starts with a newly added phrase that takes advantage of the shamisen’s tone.
Hanawa said she did not just trace the melodies in playing the tracks.
“I also mixed in the shamisen’s groove and the uplifting beat that is characteristic of Tsugaru,” the musician added.
The choice of a slow tempo for “Zankoku na Tenshi no Teze” (The thesis of savage angels), the theme song from popular anime “Neon Genesis Evangelion,” brings a traditional Japanese ambience to the fore.
Hanawa made her major label debut in 2004 while still studying at Tokyo University of the Arts. In recent years she has performed outside Japan more frequently than before. In Kosovo, she met a woman who had sustained burns during the civil war in her country and subsequently received treatment in Japan.