Japanese musical instrument, a long zither with movable bridges and usually 13 strings. It is placed on the ground or a low table, and the strings are plucked by plectra on the fingers of the right hand while the left hand alters the pitch or ornaments the sound of individual strings by pressing or manipulating them on the other side of each bridge. The koto is played solo, in chamber ensembles—especially with the shakuhachi (a bamboo flute) and the samisen (a fretless lute)—and in gagaku music. The koto is Japan's national instrument.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on koto, visit Britannica.com.

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