Music Japan
by
Bonnie Wade
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 June 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0038

Introduction

In this entry, the topic of Japanese music encompasses historical repertoires and practices that are usually referred to as “traditional music” as well as music created since the systematic introduction of Western musical theory, instruments, and repertoire in the Meiji era (1868–1912). In terms of the literature that is available about each of them—work produced by both Japanese and non-Japanese writers—the attention paid to traditional music has been far more plentiful. Here, sources on traditional music are organized into major sections on theory, on Imperial court music, on major theatrical genres in which music is a prominent (if not primary) element, on folk music, and on important instruments and their musical repertoires (see Instruments and Their Music). A good deal of the literature on traditional music speaks to those genres as they are learned and performed today, with meaningful space in the modern society. Two sections are devoted to literature on repertoires received or created in Japan since the nation opened its doors to international cultures in late 19th century. One of those sections focuses on popular musics, while the other focuses on composers of the modern era in the “concert music” sphere. Internally, Japan’s musical culture is a flourishing cosmopolitan one; beyond Japan, the place of contemporary Japanese composers and musicians in international spheres is burgeoning.

General Overviews

Of the three books listed here, Malm 2000 and Tokita and Hughes 2008 follow the established format of introducing Japanese musical traditions genre by genre, in chronological order, but they write for different audiences. In Wade 2005, contemporary culture is the starting point, with history illuminating the present.

  • Malm, William P. 2000.Traditional Japanese music and musical instruments. Rev. ed. Tokyo: Kodansha International.

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    First published in 1959 (Rutland, VT: Tuttle), this now-classic text introduces Japanese traditional music to the lay person or the student. The important performance genres through history are contextualized and analyzed, with plentiful graphics. Appendix 1 displays several notation systems—vocal, biwa, shakuhachi, koto, and more. Includes CD.

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  • Tokita, Alison McQueen, and David W. Hughes, eds. 2008. The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    A multiauthored compendium covering significant historical genres and examining the historical, physical, social, ideological, aesthetic, and economic contexts that cause these musics to exist in the forms that they do now. Chapters on folk, popular, and Western classical musics; the music of the Ryukyu islands (including Okinawa); and Ainu culture. For specialists, includes assessment of research on Japanese music. Includes bibliography and CD.

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  • Wade, Bonnie C. 2005. Music in Japan: Experiencing music, expressing culture. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Textbook for the uninitiated, conceived around three themes: musical interface with other cultures (in modern times, Western styles; in history, gagaku); continuity and transformation of cultural material through intertextuality (one story performed in Noh, Kabuki, film); and gradual popularization of originally context-specific practices (koto, shakuhachi, etc.). Suggested activities engage readers. Includes CD.

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Reference Works

Hughes 1993 characterizes the interests and approaches of Japanese writers on traditional music, introducing briefly the sort of work found in Kikkawa 1984 and Hirano, et al. 1989, the most comprehensive dictionary of music in the Japanese language. Harich-Schneider 1973 and Nelson 2002 focus on the historical study of traditional music. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (Sadie and Tyrrell 2001) to an extent provided the basis for the Grove Music Online site for Japan, and both offer articles and a bibliography on a wide range of topics, as does Provine, et al. 2002.

  • Grove Music Online. Edited by Shigeo Kishibe. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Information on Japan is organized into sections on general information (history, aesthetics, transmission, scales and mode); instruments and instrumental genres (archaeology, instruments by name); notation systems (vocal, instrumental, mnemonics); religious music (Shinto, Buddhist, early Christian, new religions); court music; theater music; folk music (warabe-uta, min’yō, minzoku geinō); regional traditions (Ryukyu, Ainu); and music in the period of Westernization (Western art, popular, traditional). With bibliographies.

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  • Harich-Schneider, Eta. 1973. A history of Japanese music. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Although written as a narrative, best as a reference source. Viewing music history in light of social and political history, Harich-Schneider surveys, in chronological order, “all available” evidence of musical activity in Japan’s prehistoric excavations, surviving instruments, pictorial evidence, written records of successive periods, and modern acceptance of Western music.

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  • Hirano Kenji, Kamisangō Yūkō, and Gamō Kuniaki, eds. 1989. Nihon ongaku daijiten. Tokyo: Heibonsha.

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    Major revision of the important Ongaku Daijiten (1981–1983). More comprehensive, including items related both to Japan and greater Asia, recent research, and additional manuscript sources. New accessible organization into sections on general matters such as terminology (traditional theory and performance, Chinese and Western theory), institutions, instruments, ancient and Middle Age musics, modern and contemporary music. Helpful indices.

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  • Hughes, David. 1993. Japan. In Ethnomusicology: Historical and regional studies. Edited by Helen Myers, 345–363. London: Macmillan.

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    Bibliographical essay (with list), mostly on recent ethnomusicological research on traditional Japanese music by Japanese writers, aiming to characterize Japanese publications, approaches and attitudes, and topics of interest.

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  • Kikkawa Eishi, ed. 1984. Hōgaku hyakka jiten: Gagaku kara min’yō made. Tokyo: Ongaku no Tomosha.

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    Hōgaku is the term now widely used to refer to Japanese traditional musics. This encyclopedia was edited by one of the leading scholars in the field.

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  • Nelson, Steven. 2002. Historical source materials. In East Asia: China, Japan, and Korea. Vol. 7 of The Garland encyclopedia of world music. Edited by Robert C. Provine, Yosihiko Tokumaru, and J. Lawrence Witzleben, 585–590. New York: Routledge.

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    Concise overview of the major sources for Japanese music history: instruments, scores, living tradition; contemporary records such as diaries and historical records.

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  • Provine, Robert C., Yosihiko Tokumaru, and J. Lawrence Witzleben, eds. 2002. The Garland encyclopedia of world music Vol. 7 East Asia: China, Japan, and Korea. New York and London: Routledge.

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    Brief, concise articles to introduce many topics. Sections on issues and processes in Japanese music, on twenty-four musical genres, on music in Japanese culture and society, and on regional and minority musics (including Korean music in Japan). Unusual opportunity to read work by Japanese scholars in English language. With audio CD.

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  • Sadie, Stanley, and John Tyrrell, eds. 2001. The new Grove dictionary of music and musicians. London: Macmillan.

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    Entry on Japan begins with a general introduction and history by periods, followed by general statements about aesthetics. Subsequent sections on religious music (Shinto, Buddhist, early Christian (16th–early 17th centuries); theatrical and courtly genres (gagaku, Noh, Bunraku, Kabuki); instruments and their music (biwa, koto, shakuhachi, shamisen); notation systems; folk music (including children’s).

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Bibliographies

When Tsuge 1986 was published, the rubric of “Japanese music” meant traditional music genres, and it was assumed that such a compilation was intended for scholars; that was also the case for Kishibe Shigeo Hakushi Koki Kinen Shuppan 1987. By 2008, as Atkins 2008, Tokita and Hughes 2008, and the Theatre Nohgaku website show, the rubric of “Japanese music” is now assumed to encompass developments of the modern era and a wider audience.

  • Atkins, E. Taylor. 2008. Bibliography of Resources about Music in Japan. About Japan: A Teacher’s Resource. New York: Japan Society.

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    Compiled for the Japan Society 30-Hour Professional Development Course for Grades K-12 Educators. Includes printed sources, audiovisual and Internet sources. Not annotated, but wide-ranging (somewhat beyond pop) and very useful.

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  • Kishibe Shigeo Hakushi Koki Kinen Shuppan Iinkai, ed. 1987. Nihon koten ongaku bunken kaidai. Tokyo: Kodansha.

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    Annotated with content and evaluation, a listing of Japanese-language publications considered necessary by editors for current research on Japanese music (gagaku, Buddhist music, biwa music, etc.), sources from post-Meiji (ended 1912) academic publications and academic record albums, up to 1985. Compiled in honor of the musicologist Shigeo Kishibe, includes his bibliography.

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  • Theatre Nohgaku. Noh background and bibliography.

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    Suggestions for those wanting an introduction to Noh drama.

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  • Tokita, Alison McQueen, and David W. Hughes, eds. 2008. The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    The “Bibliography” (383–420) and “Audio/Videography” (421–425) sections contain far more sources in Japanese and Western languages than those cited by the leading specialists in the book’s articles. These are particularly valuable lists because one purpose of the book is to account for research accomplishments and directions on historical, folk, and popular musics. For the seriously interested.

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  • Tsuge, Genichi. 1986. Japanese music: An annotated bibliography. Garland Bibliographies in Ethnomusicology 2. New York: Garland.

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    Scholarly work in Western languages, reproduced from typescript. Unfortunately out of print. Focuses on traditional music, except for some sources on the introduction of Western music, with sections on bibliography and discography, directories and periodicals, and books and articles. Indexes provide guides to subjects and authors. Annotations are helpful.

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Theory

Theory in Japanese traditional music is not a unified system that applies across performance practices. However, a few theoretical foci predominate in the attention of Japanese and non-Japanese scholars. Among them are tonal systems in one or more traditions (Koizumi 1977, Komoda and Nogawa 2002, Tokumaru 2000), issues of orality and literacy in systems of transmission (Tokumaru and Yamaguti 1986), systems of text delivery styles in narrative vocal genres (Hirano 1990), and the aesthetic structure of jo-ha-kyu (Komparu 1983). Noted throughout this bibliography as well are sources that analyze musical form in terms of patterned material (and variations of it) and the interplay of relatively more formal patterns with relatively more flexible material in compositional/improvisational practices. Interestingly, a few mid-20th-century composers educated in Western music were interested in a harmonic musical language of their own (Galliano 2002).

  • Galliano, Luciana. 2002.Yōgaku: Japanese music in the twentieth century. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. 67–72.

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    Ideas of three Japanese composers—Shūkichi Mitsukuri (b. 1895–d. 1971), Fumio Hayasaka (b. 1914–d. 1955), Shōhei Tanaka (b. 1862–d. 1945)—each of whom sought to formulate a theory for a Japanese harmonic system.

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  • Hirano, Kenji. 1990. Katarimono ni okeru gengo to ongaku. Nihon Bungaku 12:79–82.

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    Suggests a categorization of narrative music (katarimono) by three varieties of vocal delivery: close to speech but without fixed pitch (ginshō); close to speech, following pitch accent of the text with focal tones (rōshō); melodic with fixed musical pitch and melismatic delivery (eishō).

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  • Koizumi Fumio. 1977. Musical scales in Japanese music. In Asian musics in an Asian perspective: Report of Asian Traditional Performing Arts 1976. Edited by Koizumi Fumio, Yoshihiko Tokumaru, and Osamu Yamaguchi, 73–79. Tokyo: Heibonsha.

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    Considering gagaku, sōkyoku, Noh, Kabuki music, some shamisen music, folk music, children’s songs, gidayū, miyako-bushi, shakuhachi, biwa, and Okinawan melodies, Koizumi identified types of tetrachords as the basis of melodic motion and formation of four scale-types (minyō, miyakobushi, ritsu, Ryukyu). Tetrachord types differentiated by position of the inner tone. Originally published in Japanese as “Riron,” Nihon no ongaku: rekisi to riron, in Tokyo: Kokuritu Gekizyō, 1974.

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  • Komoda Haruko, and Nogawa Mihoko, 2002. Theory and notation in Japan. In East Asia: China, Japan, and Korea. Vol. 7 of The Garland encyclopedia of world music. Edited by Robert C. Provine, Yosihiko Tokumaru, and J. Lawrence Witzleben, 565–584. New York and London: Routledge.

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    Concise survey of modal theory both before Meiji (i.e., before the introduction of Western music—in gagaku and shōmyō primarily) and after Meiji, when Japanese scholars countered application of Western paradigms (emphasis on scale, for instance), including traditional Japanese genres. Discussion also of temporal organization in traditional music.

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  • Komparu, Kunio. 1983. The Noh theater: Principles and perspectives. New York: Weatherhill/Tankosha.

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    Throughout this unique introduction to Noh drama by an architect and practicing amateur taiko drummer, the aesthetic structural concept of jo-ha-kyu—a principle of “unbalanced harmony”—is shown to apply to all phases of the art form (textual, musical, temporal, and spatial).

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  • Tokumaru Yosihiko. 2000. L’aspect mélodique de la musique de syamisen. Paris: Peeters.

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    Rather than scale, a tonal theory is proposed for shamisen music—a system of nuclear tones and juxtaposed tetrachords with two intermediate pitches.

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  • Tokumaru Yosihiko, and Yamaguti Osamu, eds. 1986. The oral and literate in music. Tokyo: Academia Music.

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    Thirty-three papers from a colloquium of the International Council for Traditional Music in 1985. In case studies (many on Japanese music) and other formats, the natures of systems of transmission are considered, including oral (systems of mnemonics) and written (systems of notation), and the blurring between them in musical practices.

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Court Music

In the early centuries of the first millennium, a selection of instruments, compositions, and ensemble practices were introduced to Japan from China, Korea, and other parts of Asia. What has survived of that came to be called gagaku (literally, “proper” music), usually translated as “imperial court music.” At court in the Nara period (710–784) and Heian period (794–1185), various repertoires were used for entertainment and for ceremonies. A great deal of change has occurred in both music and performance contexts over the intervening centuries between the introduction of these practices and present-day practice. Repertoires of music associated with Imperial court life are grouped here according to three categories: Gagaku Instrumental Music includes pieces for instrumental ensemble (kangen) and also pieces for dance (bugaku) that are accompanied by instrumental ensemble; Gagaku Song Genres covers non-religious texted practices; and Religious Traditions deals with either Shinto or Buddhist traditions, particularly music for ceremonial aspects of courtly life. Whereas the court music and historical religious traditions are usually treated as independent, in these sources their origin, history, aspects of music theory, and performance contexts can be clearly seen as shared. Harich-Schneider 1973 is a reference compendium that includes a wealth of diverse sources for the study of history; complementing this to some extent are the articles, particularly those on manuscript sources, in Musica Asiatica (Picken 1977–1991). Performance contexts are vividly portrayed in Murasaki 2001. Nelson 2008a and Nelson 2008b present concise introductions to the repertoires that are performed on the 2007 DVD set Gagaku: Jūyō Mukei Bunkazai.

  • Shimonaka Memorial Foundation. 2007. Gagaku: Jūyō Mukei Bunkazai. 2007. 8 DVDs with book; narration and subtitles in English and Japanese. Tokyo: Shimonaka Memorial Foundation/Tokyo Cinema.

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    Performances of pieces from all gagaku genres: kuniburi no utamai (indigenous vocal music and dance employed in Imperial and Shinto ceremony); kangen and bugaku (instrumental music and accompanied dance deriving from ancient performing arts of the Asian mainland); saibara and roei (Heian-period accompanied vocal music). Performed by musicians and dancers of the Music Department of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, wearing gorgeous costumes and masks.

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  • Harich-Schneider, Eta. 1973. A history of Japanese music. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    With overweening emphasis given to information about and sources on gagaku and Buddhist music, Harich-Schneider addresses the need (at the time of writing) “to revise the view, too often uncritically accepted, that the various types of music have not changed since the time of their origin or introduction to Japan.”

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  • Murasaki Shikibu. 2001. The tale of Genji. Translated by Royall Tyler. New York: Viking.

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    This classic work of Japanese literature, written by a noblewoman in the 11th century, gives a vivid sense of the music as it was enjoyed in the cultural sphere of the Heian court.

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  • Nelson, Steven G. 2008a. Court and religious music (1): history of gagaku and shōmyō. In The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Edited by Alison McQueen Tokita and David W. Hughes, 35–48. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    This chronologically organized chapter tracks the importation of instruments and repertoires from China and Korea, assimilation and standardization in the 9th century, developments to the 12th-century apogee, the centuries of vicissitudes (particularly political) that caused the scattering and regrouping of musicians, and musical loss, revival, and change up to the present.

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  • Nelson, Steven G. 2008b. Court and religious music (2): music of gagaku and shōmyō. In The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Edited by Alison McQueen Tokita and David W. Hughes, 49–76. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    For gagaku: instruments (with photos), song and dance in the subgenres summarized, and modern ensemble performance practice illustrated through Goshōraku no Kyū (of Chinese origin). Critique of “the Cambridge group” research (see Marett 2006, cited under Gagaku Instrumental Music). Rare, clear introduction to shōmyō (see Religious Traditions).

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  • Picken, Laurence, ed. 1977–1991. Musica Asiatica. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Initiated to provide a venue for luxuriously long scholarly articles on historical topics in Asian musics (mostly Japan) for specialists in the field of musicology. Stemming first from work on Chinese Tang period music in Japan (i.e., gagaku) by an active circle of scholars working in Cambridge under the mentorship of Laurence Picken, six issues appeared: Vols. 1 and 2, 1977–1979; Vol. 3 in 1981, Vol. 4 in 1984, Vol. 5 in 1988, Vol. 6 in 1991.

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Gagaku Instrumental Music

Both the repertoires for instrumental ensemble and for dance include pieces that became categorized according to the place of origin. The tōgaku repertoire (music of the left) includes pieces known to have been Chinese or to come from areas to the south and west of China (Southeast Asia and India, for example); the tōgaku pieces are the particular focus of Garfias 1975 and Marett 2006. The less numerous komagaku repertoire (music of the right) largely includes pieces from Korea; this is the particular focus of Reid 1977. Both tôgaku and komagaku repertoires are encompassed in sources listed in Court Music and Gagaku instrumental music. Wolz 1971 is a unique source, devoted entirely to the dances (not music) of both repertoires. A good deal of historical research has been based on partbooks for the instruments of the gagaku ensemble; examples of this and information on more can be found in volumes of Musica Asiatica (Picken 1977–). Harich-Schneider 1954 is invaluable for guiding listening to recordings by following the percussion parts. Kishibe 1940 is an organological study by one of Japan’s distinguished early musicologists.

  • Garfias, Robert. 1975. Music of a thousand autumns: The tōgaku style of Japanese court music. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Entirely on tōgaku, considers history, theory, notation, current performance practice, musical forms, rhythmic and melodic structure, ornamentation technique, and modal practice. Includes transcriptions of eleven pieces representing the major compositional types, grouped by the six principle modes (including netori in each and chōshi in Ichikotsu-chō). Tōgaku repertoire listed with titles in kanji.

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  • Harich-Schneider, Eta. 1954. The rhythmical patterns in gagaku and bugaku. Leiden, The Netherlands: E.J. Brill.

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    For percussion instruments in tōgaku (kakko, shōko, taiko) and komagaku (san-no-tsuzumi, shōko, taiko), gives patterns for netori and chōshi (preludes), then coordinated percussion patterns for pieces, organized by hyōshi (meter). Presents facsimiles of traditional notation, translation/transliteration of the labels, and transnotations in Western rhythmic notation. Invaluable for matching up with recordings.

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  • Kishibe, Shigeo. 1940. The origin of the P’ip’a. Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, 2d ser., 19 (December): 261–304.

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    A detailed study of the three types of lutes that entered Japan, with plates.

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  • Marett, Allan. 2006. Research on early notations for the history of tōgaku and points of scholarly contention in their interpretation. Yearbook for Traditional Music 38:79–95.

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    Tracks the contesting views in a lively scholarly debate initiated in the 1960s by Laurence Picken (Cambridge University) regarding the relationship of the present performances of the repertoire to Chinese music of the Tang period (618–907 CE) or any subsequent period.

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  • Picken, Laurence, ed. 1977–1991. Musica Asiatica. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Publication series initially devoted to research work of scholars supervised by Lawrence E. R. Picken in the field of Chinese Tang-period music, especially manuscript study (instrument partbooks) of repertoire imported to Japan in the Nara and Heian periods and transmitted in modified form to the present day within the repertoire of gagaku.

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  • Reid, James Larry. 1977. The Komagaku repertory of Japanese gagaku (court music): A study of contemporary performance practice. PhD diss. Univ. of California, Los Angeles.

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    Surveys the history, including Japanization, of the Korean repertoire, the instruments used, and the repertory. Analysis includes attention to form, mode, and patterned melodic structure.

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  • Wolz, Carl. 1971. Bugaku Japanese court dance, with the notation of basic movements and of Nasori. Providence, RI: Asian Music Publications.

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    This source makes a unique contribution with its observations on bugaku court dance, including the relationship of costume to movement and of the stage to movement. Lists the extent repertoire–28 samai, 24 umai, 6 utamai—with classification, identification, and specified garments (illustrated by drawings). Notations are given in the Labannotation staff system for basic positions and movements, movement phrases, manner of entry, dance formations; full notations of Nasori no Ha and Nasori no Kyū.

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Gagaku Song Genres

Two secular song genres of the Heian period have received scholarly attention. Saibara was an accompanied song form new in the 9th century, probably with earlier indigenous origins but given the character of tōgaku/komagaku by noble musicians. The form died out in the 15th century, but six of about sixty songs were revived for performance by Imperial Household musicians in the 17th century or later (see Harich-Schneider 1952, Markham 1983). Formalized in the 10th century by a musician of the noble class, roei are sung renditions of short excerpts from Chinese-language poems by Chinese and Japanese poets; see Harich-Schneider 1965.

  • Harich-Schneider, Eta. 1952. Koromogae: One of the saibara of Japanese court music. Monumenta Nipponica 8.1/2: 398–406.

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    Harich-Schneider provides information on the genre; a facsimile copy of the first page of the voice part of one song, “Koromogae,” from the Meiji 1876 gagaku partbooks; transnotation of the chorus, koto, and biwa parts in the score, with analysis; and the percussion pattern and melodic mode in shō, ōteki, and hichiriki parts.

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  • Harich-Schneider, Eta. 1965. Roei, the medieval court songs of Japan. Tokyo: Sophia Univ. Press.

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    Surveys source material in chronological order, showing the changing attitude during the rise of Buddhism and its effects on music. With analysis of tonal material, use of standardized motivic patterns, ornamentation, vocal technique, and instrumental accompaniment; transcriptions of fourteen melodies in staff notation; and transliteration of songs and translation into English.

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  • Markham, Elizabeth. 1983. Saibara: Japanese court songs of the Heian period. Vol. 2, Music. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    To explore the alleged relationship of some saibara melodies with tōgaku and komagaku repertoires, Markham reconstructs voice parts from two late 12th-century partbooks for lute and zither and compares them with other period primary sources. While considered a worthy endeavor, concern has been raised about the author’s knowledge of historical primary sources (see Marett 2006, cited under Gagaku Instrumental Music). Vol. 1 is the text volume, Vol. 2 contains the music.

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Religious Traditions

Garfias 1968 is a rare study of a court Shinto ceremony, while Nelson 1998 and Nelson 2008 focus on shōmyō, vocal music of Japanese Buddhist ritual. Hirano and Sawada 1979 correlates musical/textual analysis of Buddhist vocal music with recordings.

  • Garfias, Robert. 1968. The Sacred mi-kagura of the Japanese imperial court. Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology 1.2: 150–178.

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    The 11th-century mi-kagura ceremony was performed by nobles, often including the emperor and highest-ranking professional musicians, but now by musicians only. Garfias tracks the music for this symbolic, ritual performance (a series of songs separated by short instrumental interludes) for entertainment of the gods. Includes transcriptions, analysis, and text translations for three songs. Available online.

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  • Hirano, Kenji, and Atsuko Sawada. 1979. Bukkyō seigaku ni okeru kokugo shōhō no kenkyū. In notes to Hasedera rongi. By Kenji Hirano and Atsuko Sawada, 159–185. LP. Toshiba EMI THX-90032.

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    The Hirano classification of three styles of narrative text delivery according to speech or melody-plus-pitch here encompasses also rhythm (syllabic or melismatic) for the heike-biwa tradition.

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  • Nelson, Steven G. 1998. Buddhist chant of Shingi-Shingon: A guide to readers and listeners. In Shingi shingon shōmyō shūsei gakufu-hen, nika hōyō-shū Vol. 2. Tokyo: Shingi Shingonshū Buzan-ha Bukkyō Seinenkai.

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    Scholarly commentary in English by Nelson for this set of notations and transcriptions of shōmyō, with 4 CDs (Victor PRCD-1616-19). The editor/publisher is the Shingi Shingonshû Buzan-ha Bukkyô Seinenkai (Youth Association of the Buzan Branch of the Shingon Sect).

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  • Nelson, Steven G. 2008. Court and religious music (2): music of gagaku and shōmyō. In The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Edited by Alison McQueen Tokita and David W. Hughes, 49–76. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    Clear introduction to Tendai and Shingon sect shōmyō, covering ritual context; pitch, mode, and vocal range; melody and ornamentation; language of texts (translations) and musical styles (transcriptions); and notation, classifying various systems of neumatic notation (hakase) by the way pitch is represented.

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Theatrical Genres

Dramatization of the rich lode of episodes from the Tales of the Heike, folk tales, and other stories that circulated as the material for storytellers and folk enactments took different forms in successive eras. The 14th and 15th centuries saw the emergence of the elite Noh () drama imbued with the aesthetics of Zen. The enactment of dramas drawn from the everyday life of commoners was added to those taken from historical stories as urban centers grew. In the 17th century, Osaka artists working in a style of musical narrative adopted the shamisen as an accompanying instrument (see Shamisen (Plucked Lute)) and joined with puppet drama to create what became known as Bunraku. Also in the 17th century, urban audiences saw the development of the popular Kabuki theatrical form. Common to all three forms is the importance of music. The Ear Catches the Eye (Kyrova 2000) contextualizes Noh and Kabuki through art, while the nature of the stories enacted in all three is introduced in Brazell 1998. Brandon, et al. 1978 brings multiple perspectives to bear on Kabuki. Japanese Performing Arts Resource Center provides visual sources and scholarly references for all the forms.

  • Brandon, James, William P. Malm, and Donald Shively. 1978. Studies in Kabuki: Its acting, music, and historical context. Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai‘i Press.

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    An anthology of three studies: Shively on social history, Brandon on acting styles and kata, and Malm on the music of Kabuki.

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  • Brazell, Karen, ed. 1998. Traditional Japanese theater: An anthology of plays. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    Translations of plays regularly performed fromNoh, kyōgen (comic plays linked withNoh), Bunraku, and Kabuki. Part 1 introduces them as a living tradition, with descriptions of stage business and occurrence of music and illustrations. Four plays with similar themes reveal some differences among the theatrical genres.

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  • Japanese Performing Arts Resource Center (JPARC).

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    Originated by Karen Brazell at Cornell University, JPARC is the initial site of an ambitious online source (PARCs) designed to advance the study and teaching of performing arts worldwide. Images, scholarly references and other materials are organized into these modules: nôh/kyôgen; puppetry/kabuki; international; playwrights/texts; theater prints and illustrations; stages/scenery/props; costumes/masks/makeup.

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  • Kryova, Magda, ed. 2000. The ear catches the eye: Music in Japanese prints. Leiden, The Netherlands: Hotei Publishing.

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    Published in conjunction with the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag exhibition commemorating 400 years of Japanese-Dutch relations. With brief essays: Onno Mensink on traditional Japanese music; Linda Fujie on festivals and other celebrations; and introductions to the woodblock prints, Kabuki, Noh, and the entertainment quarter of Edo. Musical instruments beautifully contextualized. With 150 prints.

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Noh Drama (and Kyōgen)

The Noh () drama is an elegant, ritualized, historic theatrical genre imbued with overtones of ancient Japanese culture, Buddhist and Shinto philosophies, and historic stories. Drawing on preexisting forms of dance, folk theater, instrumental music, and Buddhist chant, the actor-theorist Motokiyo Zeami (b. 1363?–d. 1443?) brought it to a refined form expressive of the culture of his patrons, the samurai elite. A form in which a maximum of effect is obtained from a minimum of means, it has been performed continuously to the present. Kyōgen are comic plays attached to the esthete Noh; use of music in them has been little considered. These overviews take different forms. Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkōkai 1955 offers English translations of a selection of plays. Keene 1996 contextualizes the genre. Komparu 1983 introduces the various theatrical elements of the genre as a whole, while Wade 2004 gives an extremely succinct introduction to the elements of Noh, then focuses on vocal styles with CD recordings of passages from one play. Combining commentary with translations of plays, Brazell 1998 also discusses their theatricality, while Tyler 1992 contextualizes each play in his selection.

  • Brazell, Karen, ed. 1998. Traditional Japanese theater: An anthology of plays. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    With the aim of comparing Noh, kyōgen, Bunraku, and Kabuki as theater, and of capturing characteristics of the theatricality of translated plays (six Noh and four kyōgen), extensive descriptions of stage business and occurrences of music are provided. The lavish illustrations are referenced in the index.

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  • Keene, Donald. 1966. Nō: The classical theater of Japan. Tokyo and Palo Alto, CA: Kodansha International.

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    Seventy-eight pages of text offer an accessible account of the history of Noh, including patronage beyond the formative 14th century when the form became “compressed, allusive, an impersonal style of unearthly beauty and restraint.” Introductions to the literature, training of actors, the various stylistic schools of transmission, and music and dance. With 188 pages of photography by Kaneko Hiroshi.

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  • Komparu, Kunio. 1983. The Noh theater: Principles and perspectives. New York: Weatherhill/Tankosha.

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    With original perceptions, Komparu introduces Noh as an art form. Part 1 considers aesthetic and philosophical underpinnings (emphasizing the jo-ha-kyu aesthetic structure); Part 2 looks at the theatrical components, including music, performers, stage, and others; and Part 3 examines the complex interaction of the parts (with two plays). Liberally sprinkled with drawings, charts, photographs.

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  • Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkōkai. 1955. The Noh drama. Tokyo: Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkōkai.

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    English translations of a selection of plays. Prepared by the Japanese UNESCO Committee, this venerable publication remains an excellent, accessible introduction to the Noh theater for the uninitiated. Notably, in 2001, Noh was successfully nominated by Japan as its first UNESCO-designated Tangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Republished in 1960 as Japanese Noh Drama (Rutland, VT: C. E. Tuttle).

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  • Tyler, Royall, ed. and trans. 1992. Japanese Nō dramas. London: Penguin.

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    Overlaps slightly with Brazell 1998, with two translations in common, the twenty-four plays here are each introduced with commentary on authorship, themes, sources, and invocation of the place where the action of the play is supposed to have taken place. With a general, brief introduction to history and theatrical elements.

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  • Wade, Bonnie C. 2004. Intertextuality in the theatrical arts. In Music in Japan: Experiencing music, expressing culture. By Bonnie C. Wade, 9–114. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Succinctly summarizes history, staging, plays, acting forces, musicians, instruments, and musical settings, including structural units, styles of vocal delivery, instrumental parts. Also includes notation of music for one dance, Ataka no mai, and one story is compared in Noh (Ataka) and Kabuki ( Kanjinchō) forms, with text transliteration and translation. All closely coordinated with recorded examples on a CD.

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Analytical Studies

Valuable attention has been paid to analysis of the dance (Bethe and Brazell 1982). While Fujita 2008 introduces the musical elements one by one, Emmert 1983 puts the instrumental ensemble parts together in consideration of music for one of the Noh dances. Yokomichi 1986 expounds an analytical system for utai, the performed verbal text (a system “forecast” in English in Hoff and Flindt 1973), that has been found useful in works such as Bethe and Brazell 1978. In the most comprehensive, detailed manner, Bethe and Emmert 1992–1997 go through all the elements of entire individual plays as they are performed.

  • Bethe, Monica, and Karen Brazell. 1978. Nō as performance: An analysis of the kuse scene of Yamamba. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. China-Japan Program.

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    The choreography, vocal and instrumental ensemble music, and text for the kuse scene of the play Yamamba. Musical patterns are linked with dance movements. Videotape available.

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  • Bethe, Monica, and Karen Brazell. 1982. Dance in the Nō theater. 3 vols. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. China-Japan Program.

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    Volume 1: fundamentals of Noh dance, including patterns and sequences, dance and verbal meanings, dance and props, costume, mask, and instrumental music. Volume 2: types of dances (to song, instrumental music, and action pieces), and dance in context of the categories of plays. Volume 3: basic and ground patterns (kata), and those involving props and costumes. Invaluable.

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  • Bethe, Monica, and Richard Emmert. 1992–1997. Noh performance guide. 7 vols. Tokyo: National Noh Theater.

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    Seven invaluable guides in small paperback format. Movement, music, and other elements can be understood from moment to moment through a play. Play texts in Japanese, transliteration, interline English, and full translation. 1: Matsukaze (1992), 2: Fujito (1992), 3: Miidera (1993), 4: Tenko (1994), 5: Atsumori (1995), 6: Ema (1996), 7: Aoi no ue (1997).

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  • Emmert, Richard. 1983. The Maigoto of —A musical analysis of the Chū no Mai. Yearbook for Traditional Music 15:5–13.

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    Of the repertoire of eight long dances accompanied with nō hayashi (maigoto), chū-no-mai is the most basic. Emmert clearly explains the elements of the structure and patterns of each instrument, and notates them all.

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  • Fujita Takanori. 2008. and kyōen: music from the medieval theatre. In The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Edited by Alison McQueen Tokita and David W. Hughes, 127–144. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    Rather than history and preserved systems, Fujita focuses on practice with perspectives, including the role of amateur performers in changing Noh through time, and the flow and flexibility in performance of stylistic elements such as types of oral delivery and basic structural units such as mitsuji. Excellent elucidation of details.

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  • Hoff, Frank, and Willi Flindt. 1973. The Life Structure of Noh: An English version of Yokomichi Mario’s analysis of the structure of Noh. Concerned Theatre Japan 2.3/4: 209–256.

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    This explication anticipates the publication in 1986 of Yokomichi’s matured system for analyzing how Zeami and other playwrights created musical form in performed verbal texts. See Yokomichi 1986.

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  • Yokomichi, Mario. 1986. Nōgeki no kenkyū. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten.

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    For study of musical form in performed verbal texts, this analytical system has been widely adopted: by units (dan), and progress through a dan by shōdan (smaller, independent structural units), classified according to criteria such as melody or speech, and the congruent/incongruent relationship of poetry with metric units.

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Instruments

The nō hayashi (ensemble of flute and drums) comprises four instruments. The bamboo flute (nōkan/nohkan) is modified to avoid overblowing an octave and not pitched to a particular tuning (Berger 1965, Fujita 1986). Two of the three drums form the core of percussion music (Malm 1958, Malm 1986): the kotsuzumi is a pitch-variable small hourglass-shaped drum with two lashed heads, held on the shoulder and struck with the fingers; the ōtsuzumi is a slightly larger, double-headed, hourglass-shaped drum, rested on the left leg and struck with fingers covered with hard paper caps. The taiko is a double-headed stick drum played on a drumstand (Malm 1960).

  • Berger, Donald Paul. 1965. The nohkan: Its construction and music. Ethnomusicology 9.3 (September): 221–239.

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    Details construction method, playing method, tone system, and patterned melodic units. Transcriptions from tapes: Chū–no-mai (see also Emmert 1983, Fujita 2008), gaku (approximation of flute melody in court music dance), and four of the six ashirai (fragmentary patterns used at various points in a Noh play).

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  • Fujita Takanori. 1986. Kuchishōga: The vocal rendition of instrumental expression in the oral and literate tradition of Japanese music, with emphasis on the nōkan. In The oral and the literate in music. Edited by Tokumaru Yosihiko and Osamu Yamaguchi. Tokyo: Academia Music.

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    Explores a system of oral mnemonics (kuchishōga, genre- and instrument-specific) used to transmit much of Japanese instrumental music, including patterns for the Noh flute. Because the mnemonics encode melodic direction rather than pitch or intervals, Fujita credits this system for tolerance towards individuality and randomness of the flute melody in Noh.

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  • Malm, William P. 1958. The rhythmic orientation of two drums in the Japanese drama. Ethnomusicology 2.3 (May): 89–95.

    DOI: 10.2307/924651Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Rhythmic system of Noh is one of fitting syllabically numbered poetic lines into eight-beat units. Ko-tsuzumi and o-tsuzumi each have many patterns for this. Flexible coordination is required of each drum’s patterns to the other, and with vocal settings. Two transnotated examples including kakegoe (vocal calls), one of mitsuji (see also Fujita 2008, cited under Analytical Studies above).

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  • Malm, William P. 1960. An introduction to taiko drum music in the Japanese drama. Ethnomusicology 4.2 (May): 75–78.

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    Used in some dance units, at the end of some plays and other moments, the stick-drum player too utters kakegoe (vocal calls) and coordinates (both musically and with movement) with the voice (when present) and ko-tsuzumi and ō-tsuzumi. Malm details strokes, patterns of strokes, and rules for progression of patterns, albeit stressing flexibility.

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  • Malm, William. 1986. Six hidden views of Japanese music. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Includes one chapter on the ko-tsuzumi and the system of drum lessons—the rituals, the process of learning patterns and techniques used in Noh and nagauta (Kabuki music).

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Bunraku Puppet Theater

Bunraku is the modern term for the sophisticated, adult, urban puppet theater tradition of Japan; it has been designated a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The serious dramatic texts—most written in the 17th and 18th centuries—are represented by small but lifelike puppets manipulated by multiple men. Puppet drama combined with a musical narrative genre accompanied on shamisen (gidayū-bushi) in the early 17th century, and with elements of other Japanese theatrical genres (Brazell 1998, Matisoff 1978). Matisoff 1978 (as cited under Biwa (Plucked Lute)) considers the cultural meaning of drama, and particularly Bunraku in Japanese history. Through translations of a selection of plays, Brazell 1998 compares Bunraku with other traditional theatrical genres. Focusing specifically on Bunraku, Adachi 1985 offers more than other works on material aspects of the genre, such as the puppets and the stage, while Motegi 1988 offers a detailed, musically oriented guide to the genre. Gerstle, et al. 1990 contextualizes and analyzes one illustrative scene from one play, coordinated with video.

  • Adachi, Barbara C. 1985. Backstage at Bunraku: A behind-the-scenes look at Japan’s traditional puppet theater. New York: Weatherhill.

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    Text revised, supplemented, and updated from The Voices and Hands of Bunraku (Kodansha International, 1978). Lively and informative introduction to history, puppeteer, narrators, shamisen players, offstage musicians, selection of heads, carver of heads, wig master, repairer and keeper of heads, costumes, props, and the stage. Photos by Joel Sackett.

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  • Brazell, Karen, ed. 1998. Traditional Japanese theater: An anthology of plays. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    Part 1 distinguishes Bunraku as a theatrical tradition from Noh, kyōgen (comic plays linked with Noh), and Kabuki. Translation into English by different scholars of such important plays as The Battles of Coxinga, The Love Suicides at Amijima, and The Song of Sambasō.

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  • Gerstle, C. Andrew, Kiyoshi Inobe, and William P. Malm. 1990. Theater as music: The Bunraku play “Mt. Imo and Mt. Se: An Exemplary Tale of Womanly Virtue.” Ann Arbor, Michigan: Univ. of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies.

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    Integrated contextualization and analysis of “The Mountains Scene” (Yama no dan) of Imose-yama onna teikin (1771, by Chikamatsu Hanji): Gerstle on the play; Inobe on musical narration; Malm on music. A study videotape of the scene with English subtitles is said to be available from the Japan Foundation’s rental program. Excellent for teaching. With two audio-cassettes (King Record KHA49-60, Imose-yama onna teikin, 1976).

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  • Matisoff, Susan. 2006. The Legend of Semimaru: Blind musician of Japan. Boston: Cheng and Tsui. First ed. 1978.

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    Study of the thousand-year-old legend of Semimaru, blind master of the biwa and an archetype of a performing artist in Japan. Through variations of the Semimaru legend, including Noh plays and Chikamatsu’s puppet play Semimaru (each translated into English) Matisoff shows the changing meaning and purpose of music, dance, and drama.

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  • Motegi, Kiyoko. 1988. Bunraku: Koe to oto to hibiki Tokyo: Ongaku no Tomosha.

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    More accessibly written than some academic publications, this beautifully illustrated, performance and musically oriented guide to Bunraku encompasses history and related genres, as well as structural elements (staging, props, kinds of puppets, etc.) and aesthetic aspects. Information on use of instruments, with many transcriptions in staff notation and traditional “scores.”

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Gidayū-bushi

Yamada 2008 offers detailed introduction to performance elements of this musical narrative genre, which is accompanied on shamisen. Some studies of the narration (Gerstle 1986, Inobe 1990) and the music (Malm 1990) are based on a theatrical performance. Popular in the Meiji and Taishō periods (1870s to 1920s) and recently revitalized, concert gidayū-bushi without puppets is performed by women as well (Coaldrake 1997).

  • Coaldrake, A. Kimi. 1997. Women’s gidayū and the Japanese theatre tradition. New York: Routledge.

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    Although banned from stage until 1870, women’s practice of gidayū has been continuous throughout the history of Bunraku. Insights offered on social organization and training of performers in a hierarchical but (unlike the iemoto) merit-based system offered from study with “National Living Treasure” Takemoto Tosahiro (b. 1897–d. 1992). Musical analysis of archival recordings of excerpts from ten live performances. With CD.

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  • Gerstle, C. A. 1986. Circles of fantasy: Convention in the plays of Chikamatsu. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    This specialist in Japanese literature of the Tokugawa era explores conventions of plays by the revered playwright for Bunraku and Kabuki, Chikamatsu Monzaemon (b. 1653–d. 1724), with considerable exploration of the method of musical notation in the historic performance texts.

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  • Inobe, Kiyoshi. 1990. Musical convention. In Theater as music: The Bunraku play “Mt. Imo and Mt. Se: An Exemplary Tale of Womanly Virtue.” Edited by Andrew Gerstle, Kiyoshi Inobe, and William P. Malm, 27–38. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Univ. of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies.

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    The musicologist Inobe elucidates musical conventions—a range of melodic types—and particularly musical notation in the narrator’s performance text that delineate the structure of the text and therefore of the performance.

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  • Malm, William P. 1990. Reading “The Mountains Scene” as music: The chanter’s notation. In Theater as music: The Bunraku play “Mt. Imo and Mt. Se: An Exemplary Tale of Womanly Virtue.” Edited by Andrew Gerstle, Kiyoshi Inobe, and William P. Malm, 65–96. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Univ. of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies.

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    Musicological exegesis of one scene: text setting, vocal delivery styles, and tonal and temporal structuring, with charts and transcriptions in staff notation. Appendices provide Japanese text, with transliteration and translation, musical annotations (by Gerstle). Also includes a musical guide to the recorded performance on the included cassettes.

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  • Yamada Chieko. 2008. Gidayū-bushi: Music of the Bunraku puppet theatre. In The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Edited by Alison McQueen Tokita and David W. Hughes, 197–228. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    Overview, including history, performance elements (stage, puppets, text types and form, narrator, shamisen player, musical system), levels of structure in a piece, senritsukei patterns, types of melodic delivery of phrases; and vocal melody relative to shamisen.

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Kabuki

Kabuki is a popular urban theatrical genre from the 17th century (with older roots) that flourishes today, albeit with reduced repertoire and patronage. Performed only by males, including specialists in female roles (onnagata), it is orally transmitted, primarily within traditional lineages. Some plays were adopted and adapted from the more formal Noh theater (see Noh Drama [and Kyōgen]) and others from the popular puppet play tradition of Bunraku, but most concern the daily lives of commoners who lived in the developing urban centers of Tokugawa-era Japan (1600–1868). Many plays include scenes considerably augmented with music (traditional genres performed by specialist musicians), but ubiquitous in all plays are sonic effects and music played offstage. Dance pieces include scenes within plays and independent items on a program. Included here are one reference work (Leiter 1997), a major compendium of play translations (Brandon and Leiter 2002) and digital recordings of repertoire (Kabuki meisakusen 2004). Print sources also speak to the history of Kabuki (Shively 1955), its place in Tokugawa culture (Shively 1978), and repertoires of Kabuki music (Malm 1978 and Tokita 2008) and dance (Tokita 2008).

  • Brandon, James R., and Samuel L. Leiter, eds. 2002. Kabuki plays on stage. Vol. 1, Brilliance and bravado, 1697–1766. Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai‘i Press.

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    First of four volumes, which as a group contain translations of plays (or scenes) from 1697 to 1905, never previously translated, in current repertory and regularly staged. Representative of major playwrights by chronological periods, play types (history, domestic, dance dramas), and performance styles. Use of off-stage instruments specified, giving a sense of when and how instruments are used.

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  • Kabuki meisakusen. 2004. DVD. Tokyo: Shōchiku Kabushiki Kaisha, NHK Software.

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    Excellent selection of Kabuki performances, recorded live at Kabukiza in Tokyo and other theaters. Subtitles in Japanese, with optional commentaries in Japanese and English. Includes, for example, Kanjinchō, Sumidagawa, Shiranami gonin otoko, and Ise ondo koi no netaba.

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  • Leiter, Samel L. 1997. New Kabuki encyclopedia: A revised adaptation of Kabuki jiten. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

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    The best comprehensive reference work in English language on Kabuki theater. Adapted from Kabuki jiten (Yamamoto Jirō, et al., eds. Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1979. Reprint 1984). Brief entries for Kabuki’s various musical genres, but a comprehensive list of geza patterns, including instruments used and circumstances in which the patterns typically appear.

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  • Malm, William P. 1978. Music in the Kabuki theatre. In Studies in Kabuki: Its acting, music, and historical context. Edited by James R. Brandon, William P. Malm, and Donald Shively, 133–175. Honolulu, HI: Univ. of Hawai‘i Press.

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    Lucid history of types of music adapted or invented for Kabuki: the beginnings, the shamisen, the lyrical nagauta form, narrative music from puppet plays. Describes the function of music and the formal framework it provides for the relatively loosely structured plays, emphasizing the offstage (geza) music. Transcriptions from recorded performances.

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  • Shively, Donald. 1955. Bakufu versus Kabuki. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 18.3–4 (December): 326–356.

    DOI: 10.2307/2718437Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Kabuki, representing tastes and interests of the townsmen class, ran blatantly counter to social and moral principles of the Tokugawa government (bakufu). Lively iteration of Kabuki history: explanation of the government’s attitude, steps taken to control Kabuki and effects on the development of its dramatic form—sometimes artistically beneficial.

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  • Shively, Donald. 1978. The social environment of Tokugawa kabuki. In Studies in Kabuki: Its acting, music, and historical context. Edited by James R. Brandon, William Malm, and Donald Shively, 1–61. Honolulu, HI: Univ. of Hawai‘i Press.

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    Rather than a history, Shively’s account is at once scholarly and readable, revealing the social context of the theater in the Tokugawa era (1600–1868), including the intimate connection between “pleasure quarters” and theater districts and the crucial actor-worshipping, fan-club enthusiasm of the audience.

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  • Tokita, Alice McQueen. 2008. Music in kabuki: More than meets the eye. In The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Edited by Alison McQueen Tokita and David W. Hughes, 229–260. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    Detailed survey distinguishing repertoire types and comparing genres of music: lyric nagauta music, narrative styles (tokiwazu-bushi, kiyomoto-bushi, gidayū bushi), geza ensemble. Analysis of “Echigo-jishi” (nagauta) and “Seki no to” (tokiwazu) with transcription and CD tracks. Helpful attention to Kabuki dance and its place in the dramatic program, and to research history.

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Musical Genres

Between the 17th century and the 19th century, music for the Kabuki theater incorporated many shamisen-accompanied popular song (bushi) genres. Prominent still are the lyrical nagauta (Malm 1963) and the narrative kiyomoto (Tokita 1999) and tokiwazu (Tokita 2008). In addition, instruments of the older Noh drama were adopted (Malm 1986), as was gidayū- bushi, the narrator-with-shamisen-player duo for plays from the puppet theater tradition of Bunraku. Since the 19th century, genres of Kabuki music have been played in concerts independent of the theater and used to accompany nihon buyo, Japanese classical dance (see Shamisen (Plucked Lute)).

  • Keister, Jay. 2004. Shaped by Japanese music: Kikuoka Hiroaki and nagauta shamisen in Tokyo. New York: Routledge.

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    Keister’s experience of the teacher-student relationship in studying nagauta shamisen with Hiroaki Kikuoka led him to interpret nagauta as a social institution wherein students learn requisite Japanese behavior through an instructional process and socio-musical system that also shapes the music. Focus is on two compositions by Kikuoka, with transcriptions.

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  • Malm, William P. 1963. Nagauta: the heart of Kabuki music. Rutland, VT, and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle.

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    Introduction to elements of the nagauta tradition: history, repertoire classifications, shamisen ōzatsuma-te patterns, and percussion and flute parts. Includes detailed musical analysis of each of these elements in two pieces: “Tsuru-kame” (1851), the first Noh-derived nagauta piece, and “Gorō Tokimune” (1841), a dance piece. Full transcription/transnotation in rare score form.

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  • Malm, William. 1986. Six hidden views of Japanese music. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    On the interface of Noh and Kabuki, with a chapter on the ko-tsuzumi and ō-tsuzumi, detailing ko-tsuzumi instruction; a chapter comparing Shakkyō (“Stone Bridge”) in Noh and Kabuki with nagauta music, including text transliteration and translation. Commentary on the nagauta performers’ guild system and performance practices through comparison of four recorded performances of “Hōrai.”

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  • Tokita, Alison McQueen. 1999. Kiyomoto-bushi: Narrative music of the Kabuki theatre. Kassel, Germany: Barenreiter.

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    For primarily dance, kiyomoto is classified as narrative, due to its emergence in 1814 from narrative (and lyrical) shamisen genres and biwa connections. Through meticulous musical analysis, Tokita demonstrates the conservative Japanese musical tendency of preservation of historical formulaic material, and the work is energized by the incorporation of non-narrative song and dance music.

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Geza (Offstage) Music

The use of a large repertoire of instrumental patterns and melodies is exploited fully in Kabuki for sound effects, for sonic intertextual references, and for heightening the drama. The music is coordinated with actors’ exits, entrances, and action. The musicians are hidden behind a shuttered wall at stage right that permits them the necessary sightlines. The most comprehensive works on geza music are Kineya 1976 and the recordings in Orita 2007.

  • Kineya, Eizaemon. 1976. Kabuki ongaku shūsei. 2 vols. Tokyo: Kabuki Ongaku Shūsei Kankōkai.

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    One volume for Edo (Tokyo) style geza patterns; one for Kamigata (Osaka-Kyoto) style. Contains all basic geza patterns and melodies in Western notation, each paired with a description of uses and specific examples of plays/scenes in which the pattern appears.

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  • Orita, Kōji. 2007. Kabuki kuromisu ongaku seisen 110. 3 CDs. Tokyo: King Records, KICH 2477-79.

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    Recordings of the most-used geza melodies, with seventy-page booklet offering Japanese-language descriptions of uses for each melody and examples of plays/scenes in which the pattern appears. With short English notes.

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Instruments and their Music

Included here are subsections on two instruments imported to Japan as part of court culture—the biwa (plucked lute) and koto (plucked zither)—for which musical repertoires emerged through time beyond that sphere. Two other subsections provide sources on two important instruments not in the historic court ensemble: the shakuhachi (vertical bamboo flute) and shamisen (plucked lute). De Ferranti 2000 introduces those instruments and more.

  • de Ferranti, Hugh. 2000. Japanese musical instruments. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    One of the introductory books in Oxford’s Images of Asia series, this little book—brief but detailed—begins with a historical survey but consists mostly of information about the instruments of Japanese traditional music.

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Biwa (Plucked Lute)

This short-necked lute-type chordophone with raised frets is also referred to as a bowl-lute, due to the rounded bowl-shaped resonating chamber. The prototype is the gakubiwa, which entered Japan along with a variety of other instruments from China around the 8th century, and to which slight modifications have been made through the centuries. It endures as an instrument of gagaku (see Gagaku Instrumental Music)and Imperial court music, while its primary other use has been as accompaniment for solo narrative traditions. Historically, the influence of these traditions on the development of shamisen music was significant (See Shamisen (Plucked Lute). Overviews present the historic and more contemporary repertoires one by one (de Ferranti 2008, de Ferranti 2010), but these are nicely contextualized by Matisoff 1978 and its attention to the historical association of biwa with blind semireligious musicians.

  • de Ferranti, Hugh. 2008. The Kyushu biwa traditions. In The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Edited by Alison McQueen Tokita and David W. Hughes, 105–126. Hampshire, England, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing.

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    Without intending a thorough general overview of the narrative biwa traditions, comparisons are nevertheless made among blind biwa-hōshi traditions of Kyushu (mōsō, zatō, and heike), along with distinctions between those traditions and the satsuma- and chikuzan-biwa practices of primarily sighted musicians, can serve as a more detailed overview than de Ferranti 2010.

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  • de Ferranti, Hugh. 2010. Japan, §II: Instruments and instrumental genres; 3: Biwa. Grove Music Online.

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    This entry is subdivided into brief sections devoted to information on the types of the instrument and each of the major performance traditions, including that of gakubiwa of the court music (gagaku) ensemble.

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  • Matisoff, Susan. 1978. The legend of Semimaru: Blind musician of Japan. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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    Inseparable from biwa tradition is its historical association with blind, semi-religious popular entertainers, the prototype for whom is the legendary but partly historical figure of Semimaru of Ausaka. Matisoff’s study is important for understanding the ambivalent position of the blind in Japanese performing arts.

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Mōsō/Zatō-Biwa

Imbued with hoary historical associations, blind Buddhist priests ( mōsō) and their non-priestly counterparts ( zatō) in Kyushu performed both ritual and entertainment functions with recitation of Buddhist liturgical texts and secular narrative tales. De Ferrati 2008 introduces these traditions. With regard to transmission of the zatō-biwa narrative tradition specifically, de Ferranti 1997 considers processes of oral composition, while de Ferranti 2003 considers orality versus literacy in the learning processes. De Ferranti 2008 takes a more ethnographic look at these traditions.

  • de Ferranti, Hugh. 1997. Text and music in biwa narrative: The Zatōbiwa tradition of Kyushu. PhD diss., Dept. of Music, Univ. of Sydney.

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    Introduces Japanese scholarship, especially that of Hiromi Hyōdō, on repertory transmission and its relations to an individual’s performance practice, including individualized processes of oral composition. Analyzes oral narrative performances by Okawa Susumu through theoretical frameworks, including text-centered oral compositional studies and music-centered melody-pattern (senritukei) theory.

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  • de Ferranti, Hugh. 2003. Transmission and textuality in the narrative traditions of blind biwa players. Yearbook for Traditional Music 35:131–152.

    DOI: 10.2307/4149324Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    On the question of orality and literacy in the transmission of zatō-biwa, de Ferranti considered the formal and informal processes of learning in the experience of the musician Susumu Okawa. Stability of musical and verbal content in his performances suggests that writing was important for acquisition of performance skills and repertory. (See also Theory.)

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  • de Ferranti, Hugh. 2008. The Kyushu biwa traditions. In The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Edited by Alison McQueen Tokita and David W. Hughes, 105–126. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    Section on the blind traditions of mōsō- and zatō-biwa provides concise introduction to history, ritual repertories, secular repertories, oral compositional practices, and the instruments. A helpful summary of research.

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  • de Ferranti, Hugh. 2009. The last biwa singer: A blind musician in history, imagination, and performance. Ithaca, NY: East Asia Program, Cornell Univ.

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    From field research with the zatō-biwa reciter Yamashika Yoshiyuki (b. 1901–d. 1996) and a variety of disciplinary sources, de Ferranti considers the concomitant forms of ritual and narrative in biwa music, Japanese society’s treatment of the blind, questions of musical style and oral compositional performance practice, and the significance of individual musicians. Good multilingual bibliography.

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Heike-Biwa

The epic narrative of the destruction of the Heike (Taira) clan by the Genji (Minamoto) clan in the wars of 1180–1185 (translated in McCullough 1988) came into being in the 13th century and has been recited musically since, with self-accompaniment on biwa. Musical sources of the narrative tradition are Buddhist chant (see Religious Traditions), of the recitation style (Hirano and Sawada 1979), the gakubiwa instrument from gagaku (see Gagaku Instrumental Music), and music of the blind musicians, biwa-hōshi. Komoda 2008 introduces the tradition concisely, and Komoda 2003 does so comprehensively. Beaumont 1988 emphasizes current performance practice.

  • Beaumont, Danièle. 1988. La structure musicale du heikyoku. PhD diss., Univ. of Paris, Sorbonne.

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    This overview provides the most detailed account of current performance practice available in a Western language. Beaumont’s source is a musician in the Tsugaru lineage of Maeda-ryū of Nagoya, which relies solely on oral transmission.

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  • Hirano, Kenji, and Atsuko Sawada. 1979. Bukkyō seigaku ni okeru kokugo shōhō no kenkyū. In notes to Hasedera rongi. By Kenji Hirano and Atsuko Sawada, 159–185. LP Toshiba EMI THX-90032.

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    Considering styles of melodic delivery in heike recitation, the authors combine rhythm and pitch to posit three categories: ginshō (declamatory style)—syllabic, without music pitch; rōshō (intoned recitation)—syllabic with precise pitches; and eishō (aria-like style)—melismatic with precise pitches. To this, Komoda 2008 adds transitional intermediate stages, or arioso.

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  • Komoda, Haruko. 2003. Heike no ongaku: Tōdō no dentō. Tokyo: Daiichi Shobō.

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    Comprehensive book on the heike narrative as transmitted in Nagoya (i.e., from the Tōdō tradition of the Tokugawa period, 1600–1868), covering research history, heike musicians in Nagoya in the modern period, notation systems and comparative study of extant notations, considerable detail on musical structure, and organology of the biwa. With CD.

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  • Komoda, Haruko. 2008. The musical narrative of The Tale of the Heike. In The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Edited by Alison McQueen Tokita and David W. Hughes, 77–104. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    Historical overview of influential tradition bearers and transmission lines, social situations of performance, and state of preservation. Concise sections on the instrument, tonal system, vocal melodic formulas, and biwa patterns. Discussion of text notation with indications of melodic patterns from the 17th century. History of research trends with guidance to Japanese-language sources.

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  • McCullough, Helen, trans. 1988. The tale of the heike. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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    Translation of the entire epic, the oral telling of which serves as the basis of heike-biwa narrative recitation and supplies material for numerous other Japanese narrative traditions, both nontheatrical and theatrical.

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Satsuma- and chikuzen-biwa

With roots in the practices of regions of the southern island of Kyushu, satsuma- and chikuzen-biwa are concert narrative repertoires popular with contemporary urban audiences throughout the country since the early 20th century. De Ferranti 2008 distinguishes clearly between the two types. Both are practiced by many amateur and a few professional musicians—predominantly female. Perspectives on the shared practice of melodic patterning are given in de Ferranti 1991 for satsuma-biwa and Guinard 1986 for chikuzen-biwa, while modal theory in satsuma-biwa is the subject of Schmitz 1994.

  • de Ferranti, Hugh. 1991. Composition and improvisation in Satsuma biwa. Musica Asiatica 6:102–127.

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    De Ferranti is particularly interested in the theorization of processes of oral composition in Japanese narrative recitation practices, including the use of preexistent melodic patterns (called senritsukei by scholars) and the conventions by which such patterns are ordered. His material here is the tradition of the performer Fumon Yoshinori.

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  • de Ferranti, Hugh. 2008. The Kyushu biwa traditions. In The Ashgate Research companion to Japanese music. Edited by Alison McQueen Tokita and David W. Hughes, 105–126. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    Includes a section on the sighted traditions of satsuma- and chikuzen-biwa, including histories, forms of the instruments, and compositional and performance processes. A helpful summary of research.

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  • Guignard, Silvain. 1986. Structure and performance of a melodic pattern, haru nagashi, in chikuzenbiwa. In The oral and the literate in music. Edited by Tokumaru Yoshiko and Osamu Yamaguchi, 273–287. Tokyo: Academia Music.

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    Guinard analyzes the numerous different forms of a single named vocal-instrumental pattern in the chikuzen-biwa tradition. In the nagashi class of melodic patterns, an ornate instrumental part and melismatic sung melody overlap to a greater extent than in other patterns, highlighting moments of poetic reflection.

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  • Schmitz, Heinz-Eberhard. 1994. Satsumabiwa: Die laute der samurai und ihre instrumentalen spielstücke danpō. Kassel, Germany: Barenreiter.

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    History of biwa-type lutes and the relation of satsuma-biwa to other biwa traditions. Focuses on modal theories of one musician, Fumon Yoshinori, and his individual practice, including danpō, elaborate instrumental interludes of Meiji-period (1968–1912) satsuma performance. Comprehensive bibliography.

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Koto (Long Zither)

The koto is a zither-type chordophone introduced to Japan in the 7th and 8th centuries as part of the instrumentarium imported from the cosmopolitan Chinese Tang court. It was an instrument of elite Japanese culture from that time, becoming more popularized from the 17th century on through intersection with spheres of shamisen music. In contemporary Japan its position as the premier instrument of traditional chamber music continues to be strong. Three orientations prevail in the literature on the koto: construction of the instrument; performance genres; and schools or socio-musical groups (ryū) by which transmission of koto music is organized. Many sources encompass more than one orientation. General overview sources span organological and socio-musical perspectives, as well as illustrating several performance genres (Johnson 2004). Kikkawa 1997 takes a historical approach to genre, conveying a sense of historical flow and musical intersections.

  • Johnson, Henry. 2004. The koto: A traditional instrument in contemporary Japan. Amsterdam: Hotei Publishing.

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    Introduces the 13-stringed koto as a deeply meaningful object of material and musical culture—in social contexts through time, and in relational systems (ryū, ha, iemoto) for transmission. Musical focus placed on notation systems, tunings, playing techniques and patterns, and a few canonic compositions. Superb illustrations and extensive bibliography.

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  • Kikkawa Eisi, 1997. A history of Japanese koto music and ziuta. Translated and supplemented by Leonard C. Holvik. Edited by Yamaguti Osamu. Tokyo: Mita Press.

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    Originally published as Sōkyoku to jiuta no rekishi, an accompanying booklet for four LP records (SLR 510–513, Japan Victor, 1961). Also published as Sōkyoku to jiuta, Volume 3 in the series Tōyō ongaku sensho (Tokyo: Ongaku no Tomo-sha, 1967). Sixteen chronological chapters interweave koto and shamisen music with recordings. For each recording, there is commentary on the history and content of the composition, the text in kanji, a transliteration, and an English translation, with additional notes on the text by the translator. With 2 CDs.

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Construction

Through its long history in Japan, the 13-stringed koto’s physical construction has been slightly modified by master players for reasons such as aesthetic preference, musical criteria, or technological developments (Johnson 2004). Other sizes of the instrument have also been created, such as the 20-stringed (now 21- and 25-stringed) instruments for contemporary music (Wade 1994).

  • Johnson, Henry. 2004. The koto: A traditional instrument in contemporary Japan. Amsterdam: Hotei Publishing.

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    Beautiful photographs of the manufacturing process and detailed morphological information, particularly on the instrument as modified slightly by Yamada Kengyō (b. 1757–d. 1817) and widely preferred today. Clear comparison to other 13-stringed forms, including the historical Ikuta ryū koto.

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  • Wade, Bonnie C. 1994. Keiko Nosaka and the twenty-stringed koto: Tradition and modernization in Japanese music. In Themes and variations: Writings on music in honor of Rulan Chao Pian. Edited by Bell Yung and Joseph S. C. Lam, 231–259. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Dept. of Music.

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    From interviews with innovating koto player Keiko Nosaka and the engineer and craftsmen with whom Nosaka worked, Wade provides an accounting of aesthetic, practical, and musical considerations for creation of the successful modernized instrument intended for performance of contemporary music. Analysis of the instrument’s capabilities in the premiering piece, “Tennyō” by Minoru Miki. With CD.

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Genres

The history of koto music took a turn from its strictly elite context when the guild of professional blind musicians (Tōdō) that was supported by the Tokugawa government in the Edo period (1600–1868) extended its purview from the traditional heikebiwa (see Biwa (Plucked Lute)), to monopolize as well the performance and transmission of music for shamisen and koto. The performance genres discussed in most of the literature emerged during that time; a number of them still flourish. Koto music, while categorized as such due to the instrument played by the performer, has been primarily song with koto self-accompaniment. Danmono (Adriaansz 1973) is one of few genres/forms until the modern era that is purely instrumental. The potentially confusing panoply of genres of the Edo period are sorted out in Flavin 2008, while other studies focus on one genre or another (Adriaansz 1973, Wade 1976). Recordings of most of the repertoire are available in Hirano 1996. For textual study and teaching, Tsuge 1983, a compendium of texts translated into English, is invaluable; although out of print, copies can be found.

  • Adriaansz, Willem. 1973. The kumiuta and danmono of Japanese koto music. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Study of kumiuta (a series of short songs with koto accompaniment) based on Ikuta and Yamada ryū repertoire. Analysis of vocal parts and relationship of vocal and koto parts, also of modal identity. Structural analysis of the nine instrumental danmono—with “Rokudan” as the basis—reveals the traditional model-based creative process. Staff notations.

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  • Flavin, Philip. 2008. Sōkyoku-jiuta: Edo-period chamber music. In The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Edited by Alison McQueen Tokita and David W. Hughes, 169–196. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    Clarification of diverse koto (sōkyoku) and shamisen (jiuta) genres in the Edo period (1600–1868), stressing that music for the two instruments cannot be understood separately from this period on. For the koto, these genres are discussed: kumiuta, tsukemono (shirabe-mono, known also as danmono, rōsai-mono, kinuta-mono) and, just beyond the Edo period, Meiji shinkyoku.

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  • Hirano, Kenji. 1996. Sōkyou jiuta taikei/kanshū. Tokyo: Victor Entertainment.

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    A fine example of the Japanese practice of publishing major scholarly work to complement a set of recordings. With this recording (LP, then CD), a collection of 220 compositions for koto and shamisen performed by distinguished musicians, leading scholar Hirano’s 335-page book comes with the set and offers entries for each composition and helpful indices.

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  • Tsuge, Gen’ichi, comp. and trans. 1983. Anthology of sōkyoku and jiuta song texts. Tokyo: Academia Music Ltd.

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    Contains most of the important pieces of Yamada and Ikuta schools. Brief information about each song, its structure, and the story behind it. Texts in Japanese characters, romaji transliteration and English translation. Useful for textual study and teaching.

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  • Wade, Bonnie C. 1976. Tegotomono: Music for the Japanese koto. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

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    Analysis of now-popular 19th-century compositions in tegotomono form (song-instrumental tegoto-song): late-Edo “Chidori,” “Haru no kyoku”; Meiji shinkyoku “Saga no aki,” “Shin-takasago,” “Aki no koto no ha.” Focuses on vocal melody and its accompaniment, and for the three tegoto for koto duo, on each koto part and its relationship to the other parts. Transnotations in staff notation.

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Schools

Schools (ryū), or socio-musical groups organized around individual musicians and instructional lineages from them, have been a viable means by which koto music has been transmitted since the Edo period (1600–1868). Although repertoire is shared among them (danmono and kumiuta, for example), each is also distinguished in part by its own set of compositions and style of notation. (See Ikuta ryū sōkyoku zenshū 1983–1984 and Yamada ryū sōkyoku gakufu 1957 for scores.) More scholarly effort has been devoted to the historical ryū (Adriaansz 1971 on the Yatsuhashi ryū; Ackermann 1986, Read 1975, and Read and Locke 1983 on the Yamada ryū) than contemporary schools such as Miyagi and Sawaii.

  • Ackermann, Peter. 1986. Studien zur koto-musik von Edo. Studien zur traditionellen Musik Japans 6. Kassel, Germany: Barenreiter.

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    Overview of the history of the koto and koto music in Japan, but primarily transnotations of 16 of the 20 specifically Yamada ryū compositions from tablature in publications and private sources. Close analysis of melodic patterns, tunings, form, and text-music relationship. Song texts translated into German, with detailed comment.

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  • Adriaansz, Willem. 1971. The Yatsuhashi-ryū: A seventeenth century school of koto music. Acta Musicologica 43.1/2: 55–93.

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    Copious musical analysis of “Fuki” kumiuta documents the bridging position of Yatsuhashi repertoire between the previous Tsukushi-goto and subsequent Ikuta and Yamada ryū and the shifting of koto music from elite practitioners to professional, from spiritually inclined to more mundane entertainment. Account of the preservation of the Yatsuhashi ryū by Sanada Shin and her family.

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  • Ikuta ryū sōkyoku zenshū. 1983–1984. 4 vols. Tokyo: Hōgakusha.

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    A complete collection of Ikuta ryū koto music in both tablature and staff notation.

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  • Read, Cathleen B. 1975. A study of Yamada-ryū Sōkyoku and its repertoire. PhD diss., Wesleyan Univ.

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    Focuses on currently-performed repertoire of 85 pieces by Yamada Kengyō (b. 1757–d. 1864) and his followers, the kumiuta “Fuki,” jiuta compositions arranged for Yamada ryū sokyōku, and the Osaka Meiji-shinkyoku “Shin Takasago” and “Saga no Aki.” Close analysis of Yamada Kengyo’s “Kogō no kyoku” of the Heike tradition, with English translation.

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  • Read, Cathleen B., and David L. Locke. 1983. An analysis of the Yamada-ryū sōkyoku iemoto system. Hōgaku 1:20–52.

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    Biography of Yamada Kengyō (1757–1864), with detailed explication of the hierarchical socio-musical iemoto system as it has functioned in the Yamada ryū, including how repertoire has been classified by who was permitted to learn what and other criteria. Complements Johnson 2004, listed in Construction.

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  • Yamada ryū sōkyoku gakufu. 1957. Tokyo: Hōgakusha.

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    Yamada-ryū style of tablature scores of pieces performed in the ryū are available from the publisher Hōgakusha.

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Shakuhachi (Vertical Flute)

The shakuhachi is a bamboo vertical notched flute, the modern type of which is different from the type introduced into Japan in the late 7th and early 8th centuries from China. At present most attention to it is being paid by players and scholars outside of Japan who have studied its several traditions (schools, ryū) of playing, and through analysis of the musical repertoires (honkyoku and gaikyoku). The transmission process is vital to the music. Literature on the music of the shakuhachi comprises primarily histories of the instrument and the socio-musical organization of its players, as well as analytical studies of “classical” pieces (honkyoku) for the solo instrument, including perspectives on their transmission both aurally and in notation. The association of the shakuhachi with Zen meditation in the Tokugawa era (1600–1868) has been revived by primarily non-Japanese players, some of whose experiences of study and performing within the tradition have been recounted. Tsukitani 2008 is a systematic scholarly introduction to music for the instrument. The Annals of The International Shakuhachi Society (International Shakuhachi Society 2005) offers diverse perspectives from both performers and scholars.

  • International Shakuhachi Society. 2005. Annals of The International Shakuhachi Society. Vol. 2. Sussex, UK: International Shakuhachi Society.

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    Published periodically as material accumulates, the Annals addresses the history of the shakuhachi and the komusō movement of the Tokugawa era (1600–1868), the relation of shakuhachi to the philosophy of Zen, playing techniques and music characteristics of each school, the craft of the shakuhachi, and descriptions of historical instruments of unusual interest.

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  • Tsukitani Tsuneko. 2008. The shakuhachi and its music. In The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Edited by Alison McQueen Tokita and David W. Hughes, 145–168. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    Succinct information on instruments throughout history, on classical honkyoku and gaikyoku repertoire (pieces not composed for shakuhachi). Valuable overview of new schools (ryū)—Tōzan, Ueda, Chikuho—of 20th century concert music and shakuhachi in other genres. Distinguishing of modern Myōan Taizan-ryū, Kinko, and Tōzan notation. Description of fundamental playing techniques.

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Construction

As demonstrated in the Kō, et al. 1990, the crafting of shakuhachis is nonstandardized and the work of artisan specialists.

  • Kō Tanimura, Kōzō Kitahara, Kitahara Ikuya, Matsumoto Misao, and Matsuda Akira, eds. 1990. Encyclopedia of musical instruments: The shakuhachi. Tokyo: Ongaku no Tomosha.

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    Produced by members of the Japan Musicological Society, Kansai Chapter, with shakuhachi makers Kōzō Kitahara and Kitahara Ikuya. The English version is intended for use domestically and abroad. Illustrated with excellent photographs, the bulk of the book shows the process of constructing and caring for the instrument.

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Historical studies

Studies that are primarily historical encompass information on the various forms of the instrument through Japanese history and on socio-musical groups of players and the styles of their music (Kamisangō 1988, Sanford 1977). The Tokugawa period (1600–1868), itinerant players (komusō), and the Zen Buddhist Fuke sect receive the most attention.

  • Kamisangō, Yūkō. 1988. The shakuhachi: History and development. In The shakuhachi: A manual for learning. By Christopher Yomei Blasdel and Yūkō Kamisangō. Tokyo: Ongaku no Tomosha.

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    This organological and sociopolitical history includes historical instruments that are not directly related to the modern instrument (the gagaku shakuhachi, the tempuku of the 12th to 15th centuries, the hitoyogiri). Scholarly critique of the narrative of the Fuke sect complements Sanford 1977.

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  • Sanford, James H. 1977 Shakuhachi Zen: The fukeshū and komusō. Monumenta Nipponica 32:411–440.

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    Through examination of historical documents, Sanford argues that the narrative of the komusō as an ancient sect of Zen Buddhism with roots in China and a long subsequent history in Japan is in reality almost wholly false. The internal regulating of the sect, including ranks and lifestyles, is explored.

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Honkyoku and Gaikyoku

Analyses of shakuhachi music focus primarily on honkyoku, the foundational repertoire composed for and performed only on shakuhachi. That repertoire is both “classical” (i.e., historical pieces shared across schools (ryū) of playing) and specific to a school. Sources on honkyoku of specific schools included here are Fritsch 1979 for the Tozan ryū, Gutzwiller 1983 for the Kinko ryū, and Lee 1986 for the Chikuho ryū. Particular attention is paid by Gutzwiller and Bennett 1991 to the nature of melody of honkyoku and by Lee 1991 to the process-oriented nature of performance practice. Two sources focus on another body of shakuhachi repertoire: gaikyoku, chamber trio pieces played with koto and shamisen since the 19th century. Gutzwiller 1974 explores form and tonal material of pieces as played in the Kinko ryū, while Fritsch 1983 analyzes differences in two gaikyoku compositions as played in two shakuhachi schools.

  • Fritsch, Ingrid. 1979. Die solo-honkyoku der Tozan-schule: Musik für shakuhachi zwischen tradition und moderne Japans. Kassel, Germany: Barenreiter.

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    After the introduction of Tōzan ryū history, organization, notation, and musical aesthetics, the bulk of the book comprises staff notation and analysis of honkyoku: “Iwashimizu,” “Kogarashi,” “Kōgetsuchō,” “Mine no Tsuki,” “Shūfūgin,” “Shinsenchōtanshō.” An appendix gives the original notation and analysis by Hōzan Yamamoto of “Iwashimizu.” Includes discography.

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  • Fritsch, Ingrid. 1983. A comparison of Tozanryu and Kinkoryu shakuhachi arrangements for sankyoku gassō made from identical originals. Yearbook for Traditional Music 15:14–30.

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    Querying generalizations about relationships between musical parts in the chamber trio performance of koto, shamisen, and shakuhachi, Fritsch analyzes transnotations of carefully selected editions of Tōzan and Kinkō ryū parts for “Chidori no Kyoku” and “Yaegoromo.”

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  • Gutzwiller, Andreas B. 1974. Shakuhachi: aspects of history, practice and teaching. PhD diss., Wesleyan Univ.

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    Explores schools of playing, with particular focus on Kinko ryū, whose honkyoku repertoire was collected from throughout Japan. Honkyoku explored in terms of form and tonal material. Significant attention paid to gaikyoku, nonreligious koto and shamisen pieces from the 19th century, when shakuhachi became a chamber ensemble as well as solo instrument.

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  • Gutzwiller, Andreas. 1983. Die shakuhachi der kinko-schule. Kassel, Germany: Barenreiter.

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    Looks at Kinko ryū history from and after Fuke sect, with rare photos and historical facsimiles (“Hitori Mondō” [1823] and “Kaisei Hōgo”). Learning method described, including financial aspects. Analysis of honkyoku in terms of tonal cells, rhythm, and form, with transnotation of scores of “Shin Kyorei” by Kodō Araki, Kindō Miura, and Junsuke Kawase.

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  • Gutzwiller, Andreas, and Gerald Bennett. 1991. The world of a single sound: Basic structure of the music of the Japanese flute shakuhachi. Musica Asiatica 6:36–60.

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    Exploring musicologist Gen’ichi Tsuge’s statement that single sounds are musically self-sufficient, the authors produce two- and three-dimensional spectrum analyses of shakuhachi tone cells, analyzing pitch, dynamics, and timbre in the three phases of a single breath. This is linked to the philosophy of the instrument and its performance.

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  • Lee, Riley Kelly. 1986. Blowing Zen: aspects of performance practices of the Chikuho ryū honkyoku. MA diss., Dept of Music, Univ. of Hawai‘i.

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    Historical contextualization of the Chikuho ryū that Lee studied. From his transcriptions, comparison of the honkyoku “Kokū” as performed by three generations of Chikuho ryū players.

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  • Lee, Riley Kelly. 1992. Yearning for the bell: a study of transmission in the shakuhachi honkyoku tradition. PhD diss., Dept. of Music, Univ. of Sydney.

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    Examination of the process-oriented nature of the honkyoku tradition through comparative analysis of transcriptions of ten performances of “Futaiken reibo” of the Futai temple and “Shōganken reibo” of the Shōgan temple by six shakuhachi players representing two main lines of transmission of the piece “Reibo.”

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Transmission

Transmission includes methods and experiences of teaching and learning. Blasdel 2005 relates the author’s personal experience as a non-Japanese student of shakuhachi taught in traditional manner in Japan, while Blasdel and Kamisangō 1988 provides practical advice for the playing of the instrument. Keister 2004 addresses the study of shakuhachi from a Zen perspective. The nature and problems of notation of the aurally transmitted shakuhachi tradition are addressed in Lee 1988, which compares traditional and modern notation. Lee 1991, meanwhile, compares notation and a transcription of a performance of one piece to understand what notation does and does not transmit.

  • Blasdel, Christopher Yohmei. 2005. The single tone: A personal journey into shakuhachi music. Tokyo: Printed Matter Press.

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    In autobiographical format, the American musician Christopher Blasdel (long a resident in Japan, and student of “Living National Treasure” Gorō Yamaguchi) provides an outsider’s guide for the intercultural interaction involved in learning and performing on a traditional Japanese instrument in Japan.

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  • Blasdel, Christopher Yomei, and Yūkō Kamisangō. 1988. The shakuhachi: A manual for learning. Tokyo: Ongaku no Tomosha.

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    Based on the teaching of Gorō Yamaguchi, this practical manual addresses such points as the stance for playing and the production of high tones and ornaments. Includes a list of Japanese stores dealing with shakuhachi and of published shakuhachi music with addresses of publishers. Widely used both outside and within Japan.

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  • Keister, Jan. 2004. The shakuhachi as a spiritual tool: A Japanese Buddhist instrument in the West. Asian Music 35.2: 99–131.

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    Foregrounds the spirituality in the history of shakuhachi music as an enabling factor in adodption of the instrument by non-Japanese. Integral to this is the process by which the music is learned.

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  • Lee, Riley Kelly. 1988. Fu Ho U vs. Do Re Mi: The technology of notation systems and implications of change in the shakuhachi tradition of Japan. Asian Music 19.2 (Spring-Summer): 71–81.

    DOI: 10.2307/833867Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Provides an explication of the differences between traditional shakuhachi notation and staff notation that was promoted by Meiji period (1868–1912) educators and adopted by performers. Lee notes effects on teaching, composing, and playing. Complemented by Lee 1991.

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  • Lee, Riley Kelly. 1991. Shakuhachi honkyoku notation: Written sources in an oral tradition. Musica Asiatica 6:18–35.

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    With insights as both performer and scholar, and through comparison of a transcription of a performance and a transnotation of tablature of a Chikuho ryū honkyoku, Lee meticulously illustrates the difficulties of understanding and transmitting in notation a musical practice that is essentially oral.

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Shamisen (Plucked Lute)

The shamisen is a long-necked lute-type chordophone with three strings. Related to the Chinese san-hsien, it entered Japan through the Ryukyu Islands in the mid-16th century, and during the Edo period (1600–1868) it was adopted into several musical spheres, from storytelling and folk music to popular theater (Bunraku, Kabuki) and chamber music. References in this section are to general overviews of the instrument in its various forms and to genres performed outside of the theater. Malm 2000 offers an overview of the various genres of shamisen music. For connoisseurs of Japanese art and music, Johnson 2009 offers relatively more cultural contextualization for differences in older and more recent forms of the instrument. Written in a more musically focused way, Tokumaru 2000, too, contextualizes differences in instrument construction for the different genres and speaks to the socio-pedagogical organization of genre-related spheres of shamisen music. Tokumaru 2000 also considers shamisen music from a theoretical point of view, while Machida 1982 focuses specifically on patterned melody.

  • Johnson, Henry. 2009. The Shamisen: Tradition and diversity. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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    History beautifully illustrated through woodblock prints, photographs, and other sources places the instrument in traditional and modern Japan. Highlights slight but significant differences in instrument construction related to aesthetic and practical demands of particular genres such as lyrical song (jiuta) and dramatic accompanying of the narrator in the puppet theater (Bunraku).

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  • Machida, Kashō. 1982. Shamisen seikyoku ni okeru senritsukei no kenkyū. Tōyō Ongaku Kenkyū 47.2.

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    From a 1955 manuscript. For the research specialist, a compendium of the formalized patterns (senritsukei) that occur in shamisen vocal music as a whole, both narrative and non-narrative genres.

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  • Malm, William P. 2000. The shamisen and its music. In Japanese music and musical instruments. Rev. ed. By William P. Malm, 213–238. New York: Kodansha International.

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    Accessible, relatively less-detailed introduction to the instrument and its history, followed by sections on major categories of shamisen music—narrative genres (katarimono, and nagauta), the music of the puppet theater, historical lyrical genres, and contemporary genres. With CD.

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  • Tokumaru, Yoshihiko. 2000. L’aspect mélodique de la musique de syamisen. Paris: Peeters.

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    Organological details for types of shamisen for different performance genres. Consideration of patrons and the socio-musical iemoto system in development and preservation of repertoires. Significantly, a tonal theory is proposed for shamisen music—a practice of nuclear tones and tetrachords with two intermediate pitches.

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Genres

Two categories of shamisen performance genres are included here—jiuta (ziuta), or historical repertoires of solo song accompanied on shamisen, and nagauta, or ensemble music for concert performance and accompaniment of Japanese classical dance, in which shamisen is the primarily melodic instrument. Jiuta comprises quite a variety of musical forms and texts, as clarified in Flavin 2008, and as illustrated with recordings by Kikkawa 1997. The oldest repertoire, shamisen kumiuta from the mid-1700s, are analyzed musically by Adriaansz 1978 and textually by Ackermann 1990. They must be distinguished from koto kumiuta both musically and poetically (see Koto). A humorous form of jiutasakumono—is the subject of Flavin 2002, and traditional songs of artistically accomplished Kyoto geishako-uta—are treated by Dalby 2000. Concert nagauta are to be distinguished from nagauta incorporated in a Kabuki play (see Kabuki: Musical Genres). Keister 2004 traces the progression from theatrical to concert nagauta, and Malm 1978 analyses one concert nagauta composition. Attention to nagauta as an element of dance performance is encompassed in Hahn 2007.

  • Ackermann, Peter. 1990. Kumiuta, traditional songs for certificates: A study of their texts and implications. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

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    An exegesis of texts (not music) of 56 kumiuta compositions accompanied on shamisen from the mid-17th-century onward, and on koto from the early Meiji era (1868–1912). Texts are transliterated, with English translation and exhaustive commentary on sources and content. Includes an index of textual images and a bibliography of Japanese sources.

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  • Adriaansz, Willem. 1978. Introduction to shamisen kumiuta. Buren, The Netherlands: Frits Knuf.

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    Presents repertoire as it is known in one group of the Nogawa ryū. Transmitted only to professional musicians, this genre has more flexible textual and musical structure than koto kumiuta (see Koto). Includes analysis of playing techniques and of melody in terms of scale-type; transcription/transnotation of seven compositions, and English text translations.

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  • Dalby, Liza Crihfield. 2000. Little songs of the geisha: Traditional Japanese ko-uta. Tokyo: Tuttle.

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    Originally published as Ko-uta: “Little Songs” of the Geisha World (Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle, 1979). As an anthropologist in the 1970s Dalby experienced the life of artistically accomplished geisha in Kyoto and learned to perform ko-uta, traditional songs for entertainment, accompanied on shamisen. Text translations to English are offered, along with a short history.

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  • Flavin, Philip. 2002. Sakumono: Musical and textual humor in Japanese chamber music of the Tokugawa period. PhD diss., Univ. of California, Berkeley.

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    This humorous narrative genre popular in Tokugawa era (1600–1868) barely survives today among musicians reluctant to admit knowledge of it. Flavin considers sakumono through Japanese concepts of humor and non-Japanese humor studies. As a performer he transcribed two pieces from aural transmission, translated texts to English, and analyzed the jōruri-like compositional process.

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  • Flavin, Philip. 2008. Sōkyoku-jiuta: Edo-period chamber music. In The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Edited by Alison McQueen Tokita and David W. Hughes, 169–196. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    Clarification of shamisen genres (jiuta) in Edo period (1600–1868): kumiuta, nagauta, hauta, shibaiuta/utaimono, jōruri-mono, sakumono, tegoto-mono. Stresses interrelationships between shamisen and koto music from Edo period on. Transnotation and CD excerpt from Ryūkyū-gumi (kumiuta), hauta, and tegoto. The bibliography and audio/videography cite important writing by Hirano Kenji for 1970s and 1980s recordings of shamisen genres.

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  • Hahn, Tomie. 2007. Sensational knowledge: Embodying culture through Japanese dance. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan Univ. Press.

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    Hahn explicates the embodying of nagauta shamisen music by dancers of Nihon buyo through a unique teaching meta-language for dance that encompasses instrumental mnemonics, fragments of the vocal line and verbal dance directions. With transcriptions of the meta-language and DVD documentation of one passage using recorded music and the teacher’s oral transmission. See pp. 122–133.

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  • Keister, Jay. 2004. Shaped by Japanese music: Kikuoka Hiroaki and nagauta shamisen in Tokyo. New York: Routledge.

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    In the chapter about his teacher, Kikuoka Hiroaki, Keister demonstrates how nagauta developed from a musical accompaniment for Kabuki and Japanese classical dance into a concert form in which musicians tried to improve performance standards and gain respect for the music independent of theater.

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  • Kikkawa Eisi, 1997. A history of Japanese koto music and ziuta. Translated and supplemented by Leonard C. Holvik. Edited by Yamaguti Osamu Tokyo: Mita Press.

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    Originally published as Sōkyoku to jiuta no rekishi, an accompanying booklet for LP records ( Japan Victor SLR 510–513, 1961). Also published as Sōkyoku to jiuta, Volume 3 in the series Tōyō ongaku sensho (Tokyo: Ongaku no Tomo-sha, 1967). Sixteen chronological chapters combine the history of koto and shamisen music with 41 illustrative recordings. For shamisen, for example, Ryūkyū gumi, nagauta, hauta, and comic forms of ziuta are presented. With 2 CDs.

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  • Malm, William P. 1978. “Four Seasons of the Old Mountain Woman”: An example of Japanese “nagauta” text setting. Journal of the American Musicological Society 31.1 (Spring): 83–117.

    DOI: 10.1525/jams.1978.31.1.03a00050Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Concerning Shiki no Yamamba, (c. 1862) a lyrical nagauta composition for concert (now also dance) on the legend of an old woman spirit who wanders through the mountains. Analysis primarily of form and performance practice—solo singing, unison chorus, instruments (shamisen and nō hayashi). English translation, some transcription and transnotation.

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Folk Music

Discussions of Japanese folk music (usually, folk song) tend to begin with an explanation that the very rubric in Japanese is the German Romantic concept that reached Japan at the end of the 19th century. Two terms cover the rubric in Japanese: min’yō (folk songs), and music for minzoku geinō (folk performing arts). Children’s songs are regarded as a separate category of folk music by some scholars; the term warabe-uta refers to that category as a whole, and also to traditional children’s game songs specifically. The current state of folk music in general is represented by an entry here (Hughes 2008b). Collections of texts and of songs constitute another type of overview source listed here (Isaku 1981, Nihon Hōsō Kyōkai 1992–1994). Koizumi and Hughes’s entry in Grove Music Online surveys types of music (Koizumi was the leading Japanese scholar in the field of folk music). Ethnographic research has resulted in work that is both informational and interpretive of folk music in modern Japanese culture (Hughes 2008a, Hughes 2008b).

  • Hughes, David W. 2008a. Traditional folk song in modern Japan: Sources, sentiment and society. Folkestone, UK: Global Oriental.

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    Moving from tradition to modernity, Hughes explores many topics: song life in traditional villages; rural-urban tensions; min’yo’s role in maintaining or creating local identity; min’yo preservation societies and contests; min’yo and tourism; the new folk song phenomenon; folk song professionals; mass mediation; and interaction with popular song and Western-derived foku songu. With CD.

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  • Hughes, David. 2008b. Folk music: From local to national to global. In The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Edited by Alison McQueen Tokita and David W. Hughes, 281–302. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    For min’yō (folk song), provides useful tracking of developments linked to modern urbanization, with a succinct list of musical characteristics, including instruments. For minzoku geinō (folk performing arts), local Shinto festivals are emphasized. Includes a brief consideration of the future of Japanese folk music, and a section on “research history and important sources,” including aural and video sources.

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  • Isaku, Patia R. 1981. Mountain storm, pine breeze: Folk song in Japan. Tuscon: Univ. of Arizona Press.

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    From recordings (with discography), Isaku introduces many types of folk songs, with texts in transliteration and translation, commentary on cultural meaning, and music (select transcriptions), including accompaniment. Relationships stressed to other textual traditions (poetry, art and popular song) by such means as intertextual referencing. With useful annotated bibliography of Japanese- and English-language sources.

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  • Koizumi, Fumio, and David W. Hughes. Japan: Folk music. Grove Music Online.

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    Sections on history, min’yō, and min’yō geino cover much the same ground as in Hughes 2008b, with addition of warabe-uta (children’s songs).

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  • Nihon Hōsō Kyōkai. 1992–1994. Nihon min’yō taikan. 9 vols. Tokyo: Nihon Hōsō Kyōkai.

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    First issued 1944–1988, comprises field recordings of folk songs from all over Japan, many in multiple versions, organized by prefecture and function. With texts, staff notations, and commentaries (and 90 CDs). The project was based on Yoshiaki Machida’s private archive of recordings of Japanese folksongs, which was transferred to NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) in 1934.

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Current State of Folk Music

The selection here reflects the current situation of folk music in Japan, addressing standardization (Hughes 1992), musical changes and reasons for them (Hughes 2001), and a revival (Hughes 1991).

  • Hughes, David. 1991. Japanese “New Folk Songs,” old and new. Asian Music 22.1: 1–49.

    DOI: 10.2307/834289Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The Taisho period (1912–1926) interest in folk song (min’yo) engendered the New Folk Song movement (shin-min’yo undo); nearly dying out in the 1930s, it made a comeback in the 1970s. The musical and textural evolution of shin-min’yo compositions in the 20th century permits a tracing of the changing Japanese views of cultural identity with respect to Japan and the world.

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  • Hughes, David W. 1992. “Esashi Oiwake” and the beginnings of modern Japanese folk song. The World of Music 34.1: 35–56.

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    This article expands on the point made in Hughes 2008a (cited under Folk Music above) concerning the Japanese phenomenon of the standardization of individual folk songs that is now the practice throughout the country. The origin of and model for the practice is traced through the history of one song, “Esashi Oiwaki.”

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  • Hughes, David W. 2001. “Sōran Bushi”: The many lives of a Japanese folk song. CHIME: Journal of the European Foundation for Chinese Music Research 14–15:31–47.

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    Amplifies points raised in Hughes 2008a (cited under Folk Music above) regarding changing performance contexts and therefore changing music of Japanese folk songs, and the appearance of folk songs in other musical practices such as popular music and jazz. The exemplar is the herring-fishing song “Sōran Bushi.”

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Children’s Songs

Scholars group Japanese song for children into three types. Two of the types—shōgaku shōka, songs composed or arranged for primary school use (May 1965), and dōyō, nonschool songs professionally composed for children—are also sung nostalgically by adults, even in a concert format. Warabe-uta, or game songs, remain with children, passed from child to child (Koizumi and Hughes , Koizmi 1969); Machida and Asano 1973 uses the rubric of warabe-uta to encompass all types of children’s songs.

  • Koizumi, Fumio, ed. 1969. Warabe-uta no kenkyū. 2 vols. Tokyo: Warabe-uta no Kenkyū Kenkō.

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    The report of a study group on warabe-uta of Tokyo in 1961. English translations of the songs are provided. Greatly enhancing the value of this work for music educators is the coordination of the songs with movement-by-movement drawings or photographs of the games.

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  • Koizumi, Fumio, and David W. Hughes. Japan: Folk music. Grove Music Online.

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    Section 2 on warabe-uta is unique to this general overview source on folk music. Koizumi classifies the songs into ten groups according to the kind of game for which they are sung and offers general musical analysis. Two songs are given in staff notation.

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  • Machida, Kashō, and Kenji Asano, eds. 1973. Warabe-uta: Nihon no denshō dōyō. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten.

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    Contains 160 representative songs, with staff notation and Japanese texts. Organized in categories: play songs involving items (ball, etc.); group play songs; lullabies; songs about weather and planets; songs about plants and animals; seasonal songs. Each annotated as to origin, meaning, available recording. Bibliography large, to 1962.

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  • May, Elizabeth. 1965. The influence of the Meiji period on Japanese children’s music. Journal of Research in Music Education 13.2 (Summer): 110–120.

    DOI: 10.2307/3344448Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An accessible encapsulation of the book by the same name (University of California Press, 1963). Pre-Meiji “true children’s songs” were learned in families and from friends. With the introduction of Western music in the new Meiji era (1868–1912) educational system, the shōka primary school song-type effectively replaced most traditional songs.

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Matsuri-Bayashi Festival Music

Matsuri-bayashi is a form of ensemble music performed in Shinto festivals held for the benefit of the surrounding community. Festivals are two- or three-day events, including ritual in the shrine and a public parade. Local amateurs form musical ensembles (matsuri-bayashi) with instrumentation usually of drums, flute, and gong. Fujie 1983 and Fujie 1986 consider matsuri-bayashi as an urban musical practice and as a tool for expressing cultural attitudes. Fujie 1986 focuses on learning methods in relation to performance practice. Malm 1975 considers the possibility that this festival music manifests a rare instance of improvisational practice in a Japanese traditional music.

  • Fujie, Linda. 1983. Effects of urbanization on matsuri-bayashi in Tokyo. Yearbook for Traditional Music 15:38–44.

    DOI: 10.2307/768640Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Rather than assuming, as other scholars have, that urban forces are irrelevant for matsuri-bayashi, Fujie argues that the influx of people into the city, for instance, and the commercialization of festivals as tourist attractions keep the tradition an amateur one, loosen ties within the shrine community, and cause competition among schools of playing.

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  • Fujie, Linda. 1986. Matsuri-bayashi of Tokyo: The role of supporting organizations in traditional music. PhD diss., Columbia Univ.

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    Examines the attitudes that persist among the Japanese in regard to music as culture and the organizational tools they use to express those attitudes. Through the example of this genre of folk performing art of Tokyo, which was on the verge of disappearance following World War II, Fujie finds differences in the roles of governmental and private organizations.

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  • Fujie, Linda. 1986. The process of oral transmission in Japanese folk performing arts: The teaching of matsuri-bayashi in Tōkyō. In The Oral and Literate in Music. Edited by Yosihiko Tokumaru and Osamu Yamaguti. Tokyo: Academia Music.

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    One teacher of matsuri-bayashi laments the increased dependence of his students on mnemonics, because some rhythm patterns and subtleties of ornamentation must be learned by direct rote imitation of the performance. With oral mnemonics written out, they evolve into written notation, blurring the oral-literate dichotomy.

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  • Malm, William P. 1975. ‘Shoden’: A study in Tokyo festival music. When is variation an improvisation? Yearbook of the International Folk Music Council 7:44–66.

    DOI: 10.2307/767588Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    In Tokyo, matsuri-bayashi ensembles include five players—three drummers, a flutist and a gong player. Malm undertakes musical analysis of one piece in the repertoire of Tokyo matsuri-bayashi groups as played in different schools in order to consider whether or not variability in the instrumentals parts constitutes an improvisational performance process.

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Taiko Drumming

The focus here is not on the single taiko drum of the Noh drama or gagaku, but the percussion ensemble practice based on local folk traditions that is now a “neo-folk” genre with burgeoning popularity worldwide (Fujie 2001), and particularly since the 1970s in Japan. Bender 2003 and Konagaya 2007 interpret Japanese taiko in cultural terms.

  • Bender, Shawn. 2003. Drumming between tradition and modernity: Taiko and neo-folk performance in contemporary Japan. PhD diss., Univ. of California, San Diego.

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    Argues that post-war burgeoning of taiko ensembles represents appropriation of an object (taiko drum) from the past and reconceptualization of formerly “backwards” regional folk culture as a pristine Japanese national essence. This response to reconfiguration of urban and rural space, governmental interests, and Western cultural influence leads to local vs. national interests.

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  • Fujie, Linda. 2001. Japanese taiko drumming in international performance: Converging musical ideas in the search for success onstage. The World of Music 43.2–3: 93–101.

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    Addresses the issue of conflicting values that emerge when a local tradition—here, professional taiko group drumming, a national symbol of Japan’s musical tradition despite its invention in the post-World War II era—is performed on the international stage.

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  • Konagaya, Hideyo. 2007. Performing the Okinawan woman in taiko: Gender, folklore, and identity politics in modern Japan. PhD diss., Univ. of Pennsylvania.

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    A new genre that emphasizes masculine representation of the subject through spectacular bodily performance, taiko is presented in post-war Japan as the embodiment of Japanese national spirituality. Konagaya uses performances by Kimiko Kawata, female pioneer in taiko who emphasizes being a woman and an Okinawan, to deconstruct historical and political processes of the masculine and homogenous identity construction in taiko.

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Tsugaru Shamisen

From the northern part of Honshu Island, known for long winters and a regional folk music that is linked to a hard life, Tsugaru shamisen is song that is self-accompanied on shamisen but that also features spectacular instrumental playing. Spurred by younger performers who have been successful in competitions and interact with popular music on national and global levels, it has come to the attention of scholars utside Japan. Groemer and Takahashi 1999 elucidates the history of the genre in this peripheral region and focuses on the music, while Johnson 2009 brings us closer to the music at its roots through references in literature from the region. Peluse 2005 speaks to the global success of innovative young artists on the national scene.

  • Groemer, Gerald, and Takahashi Chikuzan. 1999. The spirit of Tsugaru: Blind musicians, Tsugaru-jamisen, and the folk music of northern Japan, with the autobiography of Takahashi Chikuzan. Warren, MI: Harmonie Park Press.

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    Groemer’s translation of the autobiography of Takahashi Chikuzan (b. 1910–d. 1998), a street musician who became the most famous performer of the tradition, is juxtaposed with essays on music’s formal characteristics, its regionally situated history, and its transformation into a nationally acclaimed style whose reception has been shaped by an ideology of nostalgia.

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  • Johnson, Henry. 2009. Popularizing and localizing Tsugaru shamisen. In Voices from the snow: Tsugaru in legend, literature, and fact. Edited by James N. Westerhoven, 77–102. Hirosaki, Japan: Hirosaki Univ. Press.

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    In this unique volume of English translations (by Westerhoven) alternating with scholarly essays, Johnson finds expressed in the literature the deep connections of this recent tradition with the farming community and local shamisen competitions, while also reflecting on the dialectics of culture that is perceived as traditional in the contemporary national and international contexts.

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  • Peluse, Michael S. 2005. Not your grandfather’s music: Tsugaru shamisen blurs the lines between “folk,” “traditional,” and “pop.” Asian Music 36.2: 57–80.

    DOI: 10.1353/amu.2005.0024Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Consideration of the achievement of global recognition by young artists—the Yoshida Brothers and Agatsuma Hiromitsu—with a local Japanese genre that has always emphasized innovation. Their particular innovations and success have repositioned the music among young Japanese who previously thought it old-fashioned.

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Popular Musics

Studies of popular music in Japan are studies of the history of urbanization particularly from the Tokugawa Shogunate (1600–1868) forward, through the Meiji era (1868–1912), when Western music was systematically introduced as national cultural policy, to the present, with local responses to global musical flowing into and out of the country. Historical depth is permitted by some scholarly work, and burgeoning attention is being given to both contemporary imported niche musics and Japanese production. The items listed here offer a range of perspectives, as well as bibliographies useful as guides to further sources. Journals other than those mentioned in citations here in which pertinent articles are found periodically include Ethnomusicology, Popular Music and Society, The Joural of Japanese Studies, and Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique. The rich varieties of popular music in Japan can be seen in these sources to be as historical (Groemer 2008) as they are modern (Hosokawa 2006, Yano and Hosokawa 2008). The inseparability of popular music from other spheres of popular culture can be clearly seen in Groemer 2008, Yano and Hosokawa 2008, and Schilling 1997. The multiplicity of approaches to the study of popular music by the two leading Japanese specialists can be seen in Hosokawa 2006 and International Research Center for Japanese Studies 2003.

  • Groemer, Gerald. 2008. Popular music before the Meiji period. In The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Edited by Alison McQueen Tokita and David W. Hughes, 261–280. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    From the 17th century, the rubric of hayari-uta distinguished songs that “go with the flow” from songs more resistant to change, no matter whose. Groemer tracks types even from the 7th century, addressing performers, contexts, audiences, and publishing (earliest 1660). Refined 19th-century genres overlap with Flavin 2008 (see Shamisen (Plucked Lute)).

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  • Hosokawa, Shuhei. 2006. Toru Mitsui goes into retirement. Popular Music 25.2: 323–329.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0261143006000900Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This bio-bibliographical essay (with citations) reviews the wide-ranging work of this pioneering, internationally involved and respected Japanese performer, teacher, and scholar in the field of popular (and folk) music, on the occasion of Mitsui’s retirement in 2005 from Kanazawa University.

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  • International Research Center for Japanese Studies. 2003. Professor Hosokawa Shuhei: Publications. Kyoto: International Research Center for Japanese Studies.

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    This bibliography supplies citations of most of Hosokawa’s works in Japanese and English—books, articles, and reviews. Articles span Meiji period (1968–1912) and prewar topics, niche popular musics in present-day Japan, and the Japanese-Brazilian community.

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  • Schilling, Mark. 1997. Encyclopedia of Japanese pop culture. New York: Weatherhill.

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    A collection of accessible, concise, deeply grounded essays (not an encyclopedia) from Schilling’s decades of working as a popular-culture critic in Japan. Products and trends of the 1950s and 1960s are given historical treatment, with 1980s and early 1990s being the “present moment.” Important for the historical trajectory of many current trends.

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  • Yano, Christine, and Shuhei Hosokawa. 2008. Popular music in modern Japan. In The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Edited by Alison McQueen Tokita and David W. Hughes, 345–362. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    Outlines changes in popular music through responses to the modernization process since the second half of the 19th century, including the introduction of Western music; media development; new entertainment contexts; wartime control of media; postwar Americanization and the emergence of a youth market; and the enka category for “Japaneseness.” Superb guide to sources.

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The Popular Culture Industry

In the 1970s, the popular music industry shifted from the “assembly line system” established in the 1920s, wherein singers, composers, lyricists, arrangers, and orchestras each had to adhere to their clear role. The “idol system” (Aoyagi 2005) works via links among the media (Stevens 2008) and crossovers among roles (Hosokawa and Mitsui 1998). Manabe 2008 and Stevens 2008 focus on recent patterns of consumption and industry responses.

  • Aoyagi, Hiroshi. 2005. Islands of eight million smiles: Idol performance and symbolic production in contemporary Japan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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    Anthropological and archival study of the idol production industry (with a case study of J-pop star Seiko Matsuda) and idol worship. Idol performance is seen as a form of symbolic self-presentation encompassing packaging, characterizing, stylizing, or modeling of self by adolescent personalities. Considers the popularity of Japanese idols in Asia.

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  • Hosokawa, Shūhei, and Tōru Mitsui, ed. 1998. Karaoke around the world: Global technology and local singing. London and New York: Routledge.

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    Rather than looking at the introduction of karaoke technology in Japan and other countries, and how that led to an erasure of the articulation of local differences in the meaning and practice of singing and listening, these essays explore how it has led to the production of locally congenial spaces that are correlated with the technology.

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  • Manabe, Noriko. 2008. New technologies, industrial structure, and the consumption of music in Japan. Asian Music 39.1: 81–107.

    DOI: 10.1353/amu.2007.0046Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines consumption patterns (how Japanese youth listen to and acquire music and how technological, social, and corporate factors have affected their choices), as well as responses from the music industry. A comparison is made between Japanese and US infrastructure for media and telecommunications and patterns of consumption.

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  • Stevens, Carolyn S. 2008. Japanese popular music: Culture, authenticity, and power. London and New York: Routledge.

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    Stevens’s case study of the industry features J-pop megastars SMAP. She also chronicles the growing role of independent labels and musicians, consumers’ preference for more local (rather than Western) product, and the industrial transition from men to young women as the primary audience. The relationship of Japanese musicians with the West is a compelling theme.

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Genres

These items have been selected because of their depth and the guidance each offers for a type of study, and also for the variety of perspectives they offer on Japanese culture through popular music. Atkins 2001 is on jazz, Hosokawa 1999 on rock, Condry 2006 on hip-hop, Lancashire 2003 on domestic exoticism, Matsue 2008 on the underground hardcore scene, Yano 2002 on enka, Novak 2006 on noise, and Robertson 1998 on a musical review.

  • Atkins, E. Taylor. 2001. Blue Nippon: Authenticating jazz in Japan. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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    From ethnographic research and comprehensive print and audio sources, Atkins considers Japanese jazz in cultural and political history from the 1920s on, focusing on musical accomplishments and sensitivities about authenticity on the part of some Japanese musicians. The bibliography is an excellent starting point for the study of jazz in Japan.

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  • Condry, Ian. 2006. Hip-hop Japan: Rap and the paths of cultural globalization. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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    Ethnographic account of Japanese hip-hop history, using genba (sites of performance such as clubs and recording studios, where collaboration, negotiation, and networking of fans and artists emerge) as a lens. Views localization and globalization as simultaneous processes. Considers issues of race, gender, consumer culture, language, and tensions between economic and artistic forces.

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  • Hosokawa, Shuhei. 1999. Soy sauce music: Haruomi Hosono and Japanese self-orientalism. In Widening the horizon: Exoticism in post-war popular music. Edited by Philip Hayward, 114–144. Sydney, Australia: John Libbey.

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    Examines the US occupation after World War II as the founding moment of rock in Japan, and analyzes how Hosono in the 1970s appropriated the Martin Denny sound. Explores how Orientalism can be inversely adapted by its object, and how the self-Occidentalization and self-Orientalization of Japanese culture is fundamental to the construction of Japanese identity.

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  • Lancashire, Terence. 2003. World music or Japanese: The gagaku of Tōgi Hideki. Popular Music 22.1 (January): 21–39.

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    Considers the marketing category of world music in Japan through the lens of a local music (here, ancient court music) that, distanced conceptually in contemporary Japan (domestic exoticism), is being brought into popular domain by the former gagaku musician. Lancashire analyzes “easy-listening” musical arrangements of historic pieces by Togi.

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  • Matsue, Jennifer Milioto. 2008. Making music in Japan’s underground: The Tokyo hardcore scene. London: Routledge.

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    Ethnographic exploration of what Matsue interprets as spaces of play (such as the literally “underground” club 20,000 Volt) for schoolboys, aspiring stars, underground girls, and their multiple identities. The meaning and the power of performance are found to be more than musical.

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  • Novak, David. 2006. Japanoise: Transnational media circulation and experimental music. PhD diss., Columbia Univ.

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    Ethnography on the circulation of experimental music between North America and Japan. Deals with translocal distribution of media, debates about genre, histories of international avant-garde movements, local modes of listening, and technological mediation in urban networks, showing how marginal practices can articulate critical discourses of globalization.

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  • Robertson, Jennifer. 1998. Takarazuka: Sexual politics and popular culture in modern Japan. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    Robertson’s study of the all-female Takarazuka Revue, established in 1913 and still very popular, illuminates the nexus between gender and sexual politics, nationalism, imperialism, modernity, and popular culture. Two chapters describe the subculture of fandom, with its base of mostly married women.

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  • Yano, Christine R. 2002. Tears of longing: Nostalgia and the nation in Japanese popular song. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Asia Center.

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    Identifies the contemporary construction of values of older consumers through the 1960s genre of enka that, unlike J-pop, confirms nationally valued emotions and nostalgic themes—for males, longing for furusato (hometown), an imagined collective Japanese past; for women, romantic longing. Analyzes patterns (kata) of performance, programming, reception, and consumption.

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Composers in the Modern Era

The major volumes on the endeavor of composing since the introduction and assimilation of the Western musical system take on the task of introducing, in chronological order, composers’ groups and individuals whose creative output characterizes “Japanese contemporary music” (Galliano 2002, Herd 1987, Herd 2008, Nihon Sengo Ongakushi Kenkyūkai 2007). Occasional mention is made of contemporary composers in the sphere of traditional music performance. Blume and Finscher 1994 is the most inclusive of Western-language biographical dictionaries with regard to Japanese composers. Havens 1982 contextualizes the Japanese art world in which composers function.

  • Blume, Friedrich, and Ludwig Finscher, eds. 1994. Die musik in geschichte und gegenwart: Allgemeine enzyklopädie der musik. 2d ed. 29 vols. Basel, Switzerland: Bärenreiter.

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    A selection of distinguished composers of the 20th century such as Ryōhei Hirose, Shin-ichiro Ikebe, Yoshirō Irino, Toshi Ichiyanagi and a number of others are given entries, with lists of works, of their writing, of writing about them, and concise biographical information.

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  • Galliano, Luciana. 2002. Yōgaku: Japanese music in the twentieth century. Translated by Martin Mayes. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

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    Narrates the introduction of Western music (yōgaku). Encompassing political, intellectual, and musical history, this study is comprehensively informational about an enormous amount of music by a large number of composers, from prewar and postwar schools of composition to highly individualized efforts. Combines stylistic analysis with documentation. Excellent reference tool.

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  • Herd, Judith Ann. 1987. Change and continuity in contemporary Japanese music: A search for a national identity. PhD diss., Brown Univ.

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    Pioneering, accessible English-language overview of trends in composition by major composers from Showa era (beginning 1926) to early 1980s. Concise analysis of many significant pieces, selected mostly to explore the creative means composers educated in Western music have used to express their own culture (e.g., “national identity”). Rich with facsimile excerpts and contextualization.

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  • Herd, Judith Ann. 2008. Western-influenced “classical” music in Japan. In The Ashgate research companion to Japanese music. Edited by Alison McQueen Tokita and David W. Hughes, 363–382. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.

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    Retaining the analytic of “the national” from Herd 1987, but updated to the present, this is a concise chronological summary of major trends that are explored at much greater length in the previous work. Provides analytical spotlights on well-selected composers and meaningfully illustrative compositions.

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  • Havens, Thomas R. H. 1982. Artist and patron in postwar Japan: Dance, music, theater, and the visual arts, 1955–1980. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    Based on published works and interviews, Havens presents a largely statistical commentary on the relationship of the arts to the funding sources available in Japan, such as paying audiences, corporations, the state, and the artist him/herself. Finds most crucial is the support of the middle-class in the form of lessons, as well as artists’ relations with production companies.

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  • Nihon Sengo Ongakushi Kenkyūkai. 2007. Nihon sengo ongakushi. 2 vols. Tokyo: Heibonsha.

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    Musicologsts and critic and composer members of the research group (kenkyūkai) survey composers trained in the European classical tradition (not popular, folk, or traditional music). Sections focus on periods of six to eleven years between 1945 and 2000, each framed by a narrative about the political and social climate, and emphasizing connections between music and society.

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Perspectives

Beyond the general overviews, the literature on contemporary music by Japanese composers is scattered in terms of topics and places of publication. In Japan, the journal Ongaku Geijutsu, published monthly from 1952 to 1998, with contributions on contemporary music from critics, composers, performers, and scholars, is an invaluable source. Individual sources listed here were selected because they lend a variety of perspectives. Eppstein 1994 contextualizes the systematic introduction of Western music in Japan and some subsequent musical dilemmas. A number of other authors have followed up on those dilemmas as composers have worked them out since. Compositional creativity within both traditional Japanese and international musical concepts and practices is a major interest: Dan 1961 expresses the author’s compositional intention as a composer, while Nuss 2004 explores the intentions of the composer Toshio Mayuzumi. De Ferranti and Narazaki 2002 focuses on Toru Takemitsu amid the dilemmas, and Nuss 1999 uses work by the composer Tokuhide Niimi to consider cultural meaning in musical bilingualism. Particular periods and repertoires have attracted the attention of other authors. Everett 2009 addresses the postwar avant-garde movement, and Loubet 1998 looks at the sphere of electronic music. The subject of composing for Japanese instruments is explored by Tsuji 1994, with critical attention to works using instruments of the Imperial gagaku ensemble and by Miki 2008, which provides a practical introduction to the potential of a wide variety of traditional instruments for compositional purposes.

  • Dan, Ikuma. 1961. The influence of Japanese traditional music on the development of Western music in Japan. Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, 3d ser., 8:201–217.

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    Dan articulates the aim he shared with other composers to draw on deeply rooted Japanese aesthetic principles—such as the principles of ma (silence), tonal qualities, textures, instrumentation, and asymmetry—to create “the Japanese Western-style music of the future, something new but at the same time fundamentally Japanese.”

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  • de Ferranti, Hugh, and Yōko Narazaki, eds. 2002. A way a lone: Writings on Tōru Takemitsu. Tokyo: Academia Music.

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    Essays place Takemitsu in his compositional world, in order to redress the framing of him as unique among Japanese composers, and suggest ways Takemitsu creatively negotiated the persistent “Japan/West polarity” of academic and popular mediated discourse. First publication of a 1964 interview with Takemitsu and a discussion between the composers Akira Nishimura and Somei Satoh.

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  • Eppstein, Ury. 1994. The beginnings of Western music in Meiji era Japan. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press.

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    Concentrating on late Tokugawa (ended 1868) to late Meiji (ended 1912) dilemmas about synthesizing Western and Japanese music, and on making Western music popular and sustainable throughout the culture, Eppstein’s primary-source documentation of conflicting and opposing tendencies also provides a reading of the broader context of changing social and political conditions.

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  • Everett, Yayoi Uno. 2009. “Scream against the sky”: Japanese avant-garde music in the sixties. In Sound commitments: Avant-garde music and the sixties. Edited by Robert Adlington, 187–208. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Examines the diverse aesthetic trajectories and reception of Japanese avant-garde music that emerged in the immediate post-atomic period, with particular attention to Tokyo’s Sōgetsu Center for the Arts, and the works of Yoko Ono, Toshi Ichiyanagi, and Yūji Takahashi.

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  • Loubet, Emmanuelle. 1998. An annotated bibliography of Japanese electroacoustic music. Computer Music Journal 22.2: 4–6.

    DOI: 10.2307/3680957Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Gives more complete information about the available data on Japanese electronic music (especially Japanese sources) than two previous articles by Loubet in the same journal: “The Beginnings of Electronic Music in Japan, with a Focus on the NHK Studio: The 1950s and 1960s.” Computer Music Journal 21.4(1997): 11–22; and “The Beginnings of Electronic Music in Japan, with a Focus on the NHK Studio: The 1970s.” Computer Music Journal 22.1 (1998): 49–55.

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  • Miki, Minoru. 2008. Composing for Japanese instruments. 3d ed. Translated by Marty Regan. Edited by Philip Flavin. Rochester, NY: Univ. of Rochester Press.

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    As a leading Japanese composer trained in Western music, but with an interest in traditional instruments, Miki offers a practical exegesis of properties and compositional potential of a wide range of instruments. Transcriptions and sound examples from traditional music and Miki’s works. Appendix lists other composers’ works available both in score and recording. Includes 2 CDs.

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  • Nuss, Steven. 1999. “Yes I wrote it, but I didn’t mean it”: Hearing the unintended in Niimi Tokuhide’s Ohju (1988). Perspectives of New Music 37.2 (Summer): 51–115.

    DOI: 10.2307/833511Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Theorist Nuss challenges this idea about minimalists who draw on non-European materials: a composer who makes use of a borrowed language says nothing meaningful in that language. From deep knowledge of the nôh tradition, Nuss demonstrates a multicultural, bilingual analytical approach through a “nôh-based” work by Niimi for whom nôh is a borrowed language.

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  • Nuss, Steven. 2004. The politics of Toshirō Mayuzumi’s Essay for String Orchestra. In Locating East Asia in Western art music. Edited by Yayoi Uno Everett and Frederic Lau, 85–118. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan Univ. Press.

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    Part of a collection of essays on musical intersections of “East and West” (mostly on the part of Western composers); Nuss demonstrates how Mayuzumi modeled this piece on the Noh play Tsurukame, thereby aligning himself with the conservative political ideology inherent in the play.

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  • Tsuji, Mayumi. 1994. Gendai hôgaku no shoso: Seiyo ongaku kei sakkyoku-ka ni yoru Gagaku gakki o fukumu sakuhin o chushin to shita ichishiron. Musashino ongaku daigaku kenkyû kiyo 26:145–171.

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    Works written for gagaku instruments are divided into three broad groups and discussed, focusing on the intentions of the composer, use of a particular instrument, and modern techniques.

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