To 'improve' literally means to make something better by changing its flaws or defects.
Performers and instrument makers have always made improvements in musical instruments in the course of history.
All instruments, therefore, can be said to be more or less 'improved musical instruments.'
The purpose of this exhibit is to compare, from certain perspectives, instruments before and after 'improvement.'
Musical instruments of the Early Meiji Period
During the early Meiji period, there were 'improvement campaigns (kairyo undo)' in many different areas, including music.
As a part of the campaign, the Music Study Committee (Ongaku Torishirabe Kakari), established in 1879,
promoted the improvement of folk music, especially in its lyrics.
Several musical instruments, such as kokyu and gekkin, were also modified as a part of this improvement process.
Modernization and consort
Folk music and musical instruments of non-Western countries underwent several changes in the period of modernization;
musical instruments increased in range and volume, and the 12 tone scale was adopted.
The practice of organizing instrumental ensembles modeled on the western orchestra became particularly popular
in the former Soviet Union and the Communist Bloc.
Due to trade and war, some types of instruments were transmitted from one region to another
and currently are geographically spread over a wide area.
As the instruments were transmitted, they transformed, incorporating differences in performance technique, genres,
and economic conditions of performers.
This resulted in modifications in the strings, picks, necks, size and material of the sounding box, and numbers of strings and reeds.
Imitation, replication, and creation
There are many examples of western instruments being absorbed into non-western traditional music
as in the case of the violin in India and Iran. Furthermore, folk tales, myths,
and extinct musical genres may be revived to create a new folk tradition.
These examples will be introduced as improvements in a wider sense.
Automatic instruments that do not need human participation are one direction of musical instruments.