also spelled Shamisen, long-necked, fretless Japanese lute with three strings, a small, square body with catskin front and back, and a curved-back pegbox with side pegs. It was derived from the similar Chinese san-hsien, the Ryukyu Islands version of which reached Japan in the 16th century, and it is widely played in folk and art music as an accompaniment to lyric and narrative song and in the orchestra of bunraku (puppet) and kabuki dramas. The normal tunings of the samisen are cfb, cfc, or cgc (relative pitch, tuned to the singer's range). It is played with a large plectrum; different types of plectra produce distinct tone colours for specific types of music.
Meaning of SAMISEN in English
Britannica English vocabulary. Английский словарь Британика. 2012