'Smooth Criminal' Arranged for Koto and Shakuhachi

This has been posted in a few places. I tracked down the original upload and my link goes straight to the account for what I believe is the original video creator.

[Update: the original has apparently been removed, so here’s a link to the Digg version. I’d rather support Digg than the other people who freebooted the video in the first place.]

Two things immediately struck me: the arrangement for the instruments is superb, and Jackson’s original melody is so strong that it holds up under extremely divergent treatments.

Alt-metal band Alien Ant Farm did a cover in 2001 that was obviously a less drastic change from the original than this. I can easily imagine an orchestral version being made someday.

Credits

琴(箏):伊藤江里菜) Koto: ITÔ, Erina (personal blog, links to professional sites)

尺八:辻本好美 Shakuhachi: TSUJIMOTO, Yoshimi (official site)

十七絃箏:渡部祐子 17-string koto1: WATABE, Yûko (official site)

Criminally, the original video has (at this writing) only 3,821 views on YouTube. The Digg imbed that brought it to many people’s attention, and whatever source they linked from — which is definitely not the original given the watermark on Digg’s version of the video — must have many times that by now, if not hundreds of times more. It’s terrible that the original creators of content that goes viral often don’t get properly credited.


  1. A traditional koto has 13 strings. The much later variant “bass” 17-string koto added strings and construction elements for a different pitch, and has a different playing style.