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I stumbled across the BINZSARA while searching for a fourth-octave set for another Japanese percussion instrument I am obsessed with. The form of the Binzasara caught my eye – at first, I wondered how they were traditionally played – how, why and when. But my imagination soon kicked in & I started formulating alt performance methods and motives. To test my theory I imported a small model Binzasara, and encouraged by my experiments I slowly collected this set of three Japanese Binzasara:

Traditionally, “Kokiriko is the oldest traditional dance in Japan, and it is usually accompanied by the Binzasara, a clapper-like percussion instrument” – as demonstrated in this video:

Kokiriko Dance

Played sparsely the Binzasara creates a simple ratchet sound, but in my experiments, I started creating sounds that felt like a contact mic on a cicada/semi.

After finding a video with Evelynn Glennie playing a much looser and more rattly example motivated me to hunt down a fourth Binzasara, made in Nepal…

Apart from creating ratchet percussion sounds & rhythms, I was most interested in how I could use them to create sound effects. But it was only after I exhausted the obvious methods that I had an idea: what would happen if I used a resonator?

As you’ll see in the video, using a small wooden box (pencil case size) enabled a different approach where the Binzasara is stationary and is activated by dragging the lid or tongue of the box across the ratchets. My first attempt created an aggressive bark and at slower speeds growls could be created. The tonality is related to the Lions Roar method as per SD039 MEMBRANE but uniquely characterful due to the wooden elements of the Binasara & the resonator.

Played rhythmically the Binzasara allowed a lot of fun rhythms that feel very useful for animation and game audio.

Recorded 32bit 192kHz using a pair of Sanken CUX100K microphones for extended range as well as a Sennheiser MKH8050 for when mono is more useful, and released 24 bit 192kHz