Waart, Edo de. 56 Wachmann, Eduard 56

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Six-string long zither of Japan. Its name (wa/yamato, ‘Japan’; gon/goto, ‘zither’) reflects its accepted status as Japan's only indigenous stringed instrument. Prior to the importation of the Koto from China around the 7th century, the word koto designated this instrument. (For its uses and early history, see Japan, §II, 2, IV, 2 and V, 3.)

The instrument has changed little since the 8th century. Made of paulownia wood, it resembles the koto in general shape but narrows gradually from the player's left to right (from about 24 to 15 cm); its length ranges from 188 to 197 cm and its thickness from 4 to 8 cm. The strings too converge towards the right, rather than remaining parallel as on the koto. Like the koto, the wagon has a movable tuning bridge for each string, is slightly convex laterally and is generally made of a hollowed-out upper part closed by a flat soundboard underneath. The koto-type bridges are made from the unpeeled forks of maple twigs, although now actual koto bridges are sometimes used. Setting it apart from all other Asian long zithers is the row of six projecting ‘teeth’ at the left end, which serve as attachment points for the strings (illustration).

The tuning is non-consecutive (re-entrant): one typical tuning is d'–a–d–b–g–e from the string nearest the player. Two main playing techniques are combined, both unlike any traditional koto genre. In one, all six strings are strummed with an oval plectrum in the right hand, and the left hand then damps all but one string. In the other, the left-hand fingers also pluck strings. A string is never pressed to the left of the tuning bridge to raise its pitch.

The Shōsōin, Japan's 8th-century imperial treasure-house, contains eight wagon, basically like the modern instrument in all essentials. Several had feet, as on the koto, indicating that they were placed on the floor as is usual today; this contrasts with evidence from 5th- to 6th-century haniwa funerary sculptures and 8th-century poetic references, which indicate that the instrument was placed on the lap.


W. Malm: Japanese Music and Musical Instruments (Tokyo, 1959/R), 43–5

K. Hayashi and others: Shōsōin no gakki [Musical instruments in the Shōsōin treasury] (Tokyo, 1967) [with Eng. summary]

E. Harich-Schneider: A History of Japanese Music (London, 1973)

D. Hughes: ‘Music Archaeology of Japan: Data and Interpretation’, The Archaeology of Early Music Cultures, ed. E. Hickmann and D. Hughes (Bonn, 1988), 55–87


Wągrowicensis, Adam.

See Adam Wągrowicensis.

Wahren, Karl Heinz

(b Bonn, 28 April 1933). German composer. He studied the piano and double bass in Gera, Saxony (1951–3) before teaching the piano, composition and film music at the Berlin Conservatory (1953–61). He later studied composition with Josef Rufer at the Hochschule für Musik, Berlin (1961–5) and privately with Karl Amadeus Hartmann (1961–3). Wahren, whose primary compositional interests were timbre and orchestration, regarded the emotional quality of Hartmann’s style as a productive contrast to Rufer’s rationality. Other influences included Stravinsky, Messiaen, Schoenberg and jazz, particularly the music of Stan Kenton. In 1965 he founded the Gruppe Neue Musik Berlin. His honours include a fellowship from the Villa Massimo, Rome (1969–70), the sponsorship prize of the [West] Berlin Akademie der Künste (1978) and the Order of the Federal German Republic (1994).


(selective list)

Stage: Fettklösschen (comic op, C. Henneberg, Wahren, after G. de Maupassant), 1975–6; The Pitcher (grotesque, P. Stripp), 1977; Der Unterhaltungskünstler (grotesque, Stripp), 1978; Der Cassernover, 1980; Goldelse (satirical op), 1987; Galathee, die Schöne (comic op, F. von Suppé, T. Höft), 1995

Orch: Pf Conc., 1966; Conc., fl, 12 insts, 1967; Wechselspiele, fl, pf, str, 1967; Pf Conc. [no.2], 1968; Du sollst nicht töten, 2 spkrs, chorus, orch, jazz ens, tape, 1969; Reversible, chbr orch, tape, 1969; Die Wirbelsäulenflöte, fl, chbr orch, 1972; Zum Selbstmord des Genossen Sergej Jessenin (V.V. Mayakovsky), spkr, chbr, orch, 1972; At This Moment, 1974–5; Ciculus virtuosus, wind qt, orch, 1976; Auf der Suche nach dem verlorenen Tango, 1979; Strawinsky lässt grüssen, vc, orch, 1980; Brandenburgische Revue, 1981; Theatermusik, chbr orch, 1981; Romantische Suite, vc, orch, 1985; Entführung aus dem Köchelverzeichnis, 1990; Les fleurs du mal et les fleurs de l’innocence, fl, b cl, str, perc, 1990; Ecce homo, 1993; Metropolis, 1994; Poéme de la mélancholie et de l’extasie, a sax, orch, 1997

Vocal: Passioni (G. Bruno), S, chorus, 3 insts, 1973; Weltunglück geistert durch den Nachmittag (Klabund, F. Wedekind, K. Schwitters, T. Brasch), vv, orch, 1977; Schon ist die Zukunft da (M. Koeppel), spkr, ens, 1978; Der Wettlauf (J. Ringelnatz), A, fl, 1979; Fernsehhymne (Koeppel), chorus, 1982; Der Tierbändiger (F. Kempner), sprk, pf, 1983; Magnificat mundus pacem, S, A, T, B, chorus, orch/str, 1984

Chbr: Pas de deux, fl, cl, bn, vn, 1961; Frétillement, fl, pf, 1965; Sequenzen, fl, pf, 1965; Conc., fl, 10 insts, 1968; L’art pour l’art, fl, vc, pf, tape, 1968; Permutation, 3 fl, 1968; Dionysos meets Apollo, str qt, 1970; Pas des deux, 2 fl, 1974; Soundscreen – Klangraster, fl, perc, 1975; Entrevue, fl, org, 1976; Hofmusik: Raumkomposition, 4 ens, elec, 1976; Circulus octo virtuosis, ens, 1977; En trois couleurs, ob, cl, bn, 1977; Tango appassionato, str qt, 1977; Messingklänge, 4 trbn, org, 1978; Tango noir, fl, cl, perc, vn, va, vc, db, 1978; Klangmeile: Raumkomposition, 40 perc, 1979; Nächtliche Tänze toscanischer Jungfrauen in florentinischen Gärten zur Blütezeit der Inquisition, vc, db, 1983 [arr. str qt, jazz ens, 1984]; Klangstrahlen, cl, trbn, perc, db, 1995; Sieben auf einen Streich, trbn, perc, pf, 1995; Verweilt im Augenblick, fl, xyl, vc, 1995; Five O’Clock Tea, brass ens, 1996; Gegenwärtig und vergangen, fl, perc, vc, 1996; Tango Bavaria, fl, cl, gui, vc, perc, 1996; Tango virtuoso, fl, cl, vib, str qt, 1996

Kbd (pf, unless otherwise stated): Sonatine, 1959; Kinder-Suite, 1967; Applikation, org, 1968; Tango Rag, 1978; Tango Rag, 1980; Bye-Bye Bayreuth, 1984, orchd 1985; Szenen einer Ehe (Tango desolato), 1997


W. Burde: ‘Karl Heinz Wahrens Fettklösschen’, Melos/NZM, ii (1976), 298–300

U. Stürzbecher: ‘Trauer und Hoffung: der Komponist Karl Heinz Wahren’, Neue Berlinische Musikzeitung, i (1989), 27–32


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