Tegoto is a long part of instrumental music sandwiched between vocal music in a piece by an instrumental trio, which is a collective term for jiuta (a genre of traditional songs with accompaniment by shamisen (three-stringed lute)), sokyoku (koto (thirteen-stringed Japanese zither) music), and kokyugaku (Chinese fiddle music). Tegoto can also be considered as being a quasi-independent movement. The type of piece or style of a composition which is equipped with tegoto is called "tegotomono."
The word "tegoto" is derived from the 'act' ('koto' in Japanese) of performing using only 'hands' ('te' in Japanese), which originally referred to a manner of performance, technique, or part by an instrument in traditional Japanese music.
The traditional Japanese music of the early-modern times centered around vocal music; however, instrumental music developed significantly in the instrumental trio. Tegoto is a typical example of such cases. Originally, tegoto developed from jiuta and kokyugaku and can be divided into two types; one which was shaped into tegotomono as a style of composition by sandwiching a solo with vocal parts, and one in which a short interlude in a vocal music piece gradually developed and became a long interlude. The former type is relatively few in number and includes pieces such as 'Yachiyojishi,' 'Godanginuta,' and many pieces of Kokyu Honkyoku (music for the Kokyu). The latter type includes many pieces of tegotomono by jiuta, and a large number of pieces fall under this type. At any rate, in most cases tegoto focuses on instrumental techniques and on melodic appeal.
Another part of instrumental music in a piece other than tegoto is 'ainote;' ainote refers to a part which is not as long as tegoto and which is the same as the interlude often found in various vocal music pieces. Ainote can be found not only in the instrumental trio but also in other shamisen music and biwagaku (Japanese lute music).
There is a type of tegoto which is representative of the scenes depicted by words in a piece, as well as a type which is created as absolute music regardless of the words. The former type can further be divided into one in which instruments play a leading role and words play an auxiliary role, and a type in which the roles are reverse. However, many pieces have a mixture of these factors and thus consist of a wide variety of parts (for example, some parts are descriptive and some parts are absolute music), which is also a feature that makes these pieces attractive.
In the beginning, tegoto was a rather simple form of music; gradually it became longer and more complex, and it took a complete form around the eighteenth century as the result of enhancement by people like Koto (the third title of the official ranks within the Todo-za (the traditional guild for the blind)) MINEZAKI in Osaka. Furthermore in the nineteenth century, blind musicians in Kyoto created many masterpieces of tegotomono. At the same time, ensemble methods developed, and not only solos but also various types of ensemble methods such as danawase, jiawase, uchiawase, honte kaede gasso, and sankyoku gasso were created; gradually tegoto developed as a core part of these methods.
Originally tegoto referred to instrumental parts in jiuta and kokyugaku pieces; however, since around the middle of the Edo period, tegoto began to be performed in concert with koto (a Japanese harp), and it came to be played also as sokyoku. Eventually in the end of the Edo period, koto became independent from jiuta once again, but the form of tegotomono was directly inherited by sokyoku; thus many sokyoku, including tegoto, were created since the Meiji period.
Later, there were attempts to extract tegoto and make music from tegoto alone as a type of instrumental music; 'Tegoto' by Michio MIYAGI is a well-known example of such cases.
Most tegoto has the structure of 'stages.'
The tegoto in 'Rokudan Renbo' (by Jirosa KISHINO), which is tegotomono of the early phase, consists of six stages, whereas three stages are found in 'San Dan Jishi' (by Kengyo (the highest title of the official ranks within the Todo-za) SAYAMA). Also, in pieces such as 'Yachiyojishi' and 'Naniwajishi' (by Kengyo TSUGUHASHI), the stages have the same length and consist of almost the same melodies or variations. This method of performance continued into later years, with many variations added thereto, and some pieces were created to enable players to perform alternately (uchiawase method). However, many pieces have stages that were created completely as a separate development.
Separately from these stages, tegoto is usually accompanied by 'chirashi' (a coda) at the end. However, this is not the case with very old pieces. Furthermore, some pieces are divided into 'mae-chirashi' (the first coda), 'naka-chirashi' (the middle coda), 'hon-chirashi' (the main coda), and 'ato-chirashi' (the latter coda). Mae-chirashi' is inserted before tegoto.
In tegoto of Kyoto-style tegotomono, many have preludes called 'jo' or 'makura' in the beginning, which serve as introductory parts in relation to maeuta (the former song).
Many such pieces consist of great techniques and may use quite high positions. In shamisen, a figure of continuously exchanging oroshibachi (the downward movement of koto plectrum) and sukuibachi (the upward movement of koto plectrum) quickly is used repeatedly. Also especially in tegoto of Kyoto-style tegotomono pieces, a method called 'kakeai' (alternate performance), wherein shamisen and koto exchange figures, is often used.
During tegoto, keys are often changed in places, and in some cases tuning may be changed at a turn of stages, causing a significant changing of keys. In many cases, tuning is changed at the point of entering atouta (the latter song) after tegoto is finished.
Examples of tegoto having a descriptive aspect include a group of pieces in 'Kinutamono' which incorporates rhythms of beating with kinuta (wooden or stone block for beating cloth), 'Sarashi' which depicts nunozarashi (washing of cloth at a riverside) at Uji-gawa River, 'Mushi no Oto' (by Koto FUJIO) which depicts sounds of insects, the latter part of 'Yaegoromo' (by Koto ISHIKAWA), and in kokyugaku, the crane in 'Tsuru no Sugomori' (a song depicting various aspects of the life cycle of the crane), the cicada in 'Semi no Uta' (a song of cicadas) (by Kengyo YOSHIZAWA), the plover, wave, and matsukaze (wind blowing through pines) in 'Chidori no Kyoku' (a song for plover). However, the depiction in these pieces is symbolic rather than realistic, and its musical development was clearly as motifs; thus these pieces cannot be regarded simply as depictive music. Furthermore, in pieces of later years, these motifs are partially used for the purpose of implying certain scenes and situations. Tegoto of "Sasa no Tsuyu" (by Kengyo KIKUOKA) contains quite a lot of kakeai, and this is said to represent the exchange of pouring of sake. Also a group of pieces of tegoto called 'shishimono' (pieces about lions) such as 'Azuma Jishi' and 'Echigojishi,' both by Koto MINEZAKI, and 'Miyamajishi' (by Koto ISHIKAWA) have a feature of stylish and gorgeous melodies rather than being a direct description of shishimai (lion dance).
In long pieces such as 'Shochikubai' (by Koto MITSUHASHI), 'Uji Meguri' (by Kengyo MATSUURA), 'Shin Aoyagi' (by Koto ISHIKAWA), and 'Chiyo no Uguisu' (by Kengyo MITSUZAKI), tegoto can be found in two places in a piece. Furthermore, pieces such as 'Nebiki no Matsu' (by Koto MITSUHASHI) contain tegoto in three places in a piece.