The music of Japan includes a wide array of
performers in distinct styles both traditional and
modern. The word for music in Japanese is
(ongaku), combining the kanji ("on" sound) with
the kanji ("gaku" music). Local music often
appears at karaoke venues, which is on lease
from the record labels. Traditional Japanese
music is quite different from Western Music
and is based on the intervals of human
breathing rather than mathematical timing.
Traditional and Folk Music.
- is a type of classical music that has been performed at the Imperial court
since the Heian period. It is court music, and is the oldest traditional music
in Japan. Gagaku music includes songs, dances, and a mixture of other Asian
music. Gagaku has two styles; these are instrumental music kigaku and vocal
Kangen - basically, a Chinese form of music.
Bugaku- influenced by Tang Dynasty China and Balhae.
-is kind of Buddhist song which is an added melody for
a sutra. Shōmyō came from India, and it began in Japan
in the Nara period. Shōmyō is sung a Capella by one or
more Buddhist monks
-Jōruri is narrative music using the shamisen. There are
four main jōruri styles. These are centuries-old traditions
which continue today.
Kinds Of Joruri
1. Gidayubushi - During the Edo period, Takemoto Gidayu began to play joruri
in Osaka. This type of jōruri is for Bunraku, (puppet plays).
2. Tokiwazubushi - During the Edo period, Tokiwazu Mojidayu began to play this
style of joruri in Edo. This type of juror is for kabuki dances called Shosagoto.
3. Kiyomotobushi - Kiyomoto Enjyudayu began to play this for kabuki dances in
Edo during the late Edo period. He began to play this style in 1814. He played
Tomimotobushi style at first. He spun off from Tomimotobushi style. He started
Kiyomotobushi style. This style is refreshingly unrestrained.
4. Shinnaibushi - In the middle of the Edo period, Tsuruga Shinnai began to play
this for kabuki. This style of jōruri is typically lively and upbeat.
There are other four jōruri styles which have largely died
out Icchuubushi, Katōbushi, Miyazonobushi and
Ogiebushi. Katōbushi, Icchuubushi and Miyazonobushi
are called Kokyoku which means old music. Ogiebushi is
not jōruri, Ogiebushi is like Nagauta.
Nagauta is music using the shamisen. There are three
styles of nagauta: one for kabuki dance, one for kabuki
dialogue, and one of music unconnected with kabuki.
Ogiebushi is similar to nagauta. Ogie Royuu began to
play this style, having played nagauta style at first. He
spun off from Nagauta style.
is a Japanese short-necked
fretted lute, often used in narrative
storytelling. The biwa is the chosen
instrument of Benten, goddess of
music, eloquence, poetry, and
education in Japanese Shinto.
is a simple Japanese musical
instrument, consisting of two pieces
of hardwood or bamboo that are
connected by a thin ornamental rope.
They are used in traditional theaters in
Japan to announce the beginning of a
is a type of bell from Japan. a
dish-shaped bell. it is often hung
on a bar, and the player holds the
bell in place with one hand, and
beats the Kane with a specialized
mallet with the other.
is a traditional
Japanese string instrument,
the only one played with
is a traditional Japanese stringed musical
instrument, similar to the Chinese zheng, and
the Vietnamese đàn tranh. The koto is the
national instrument of Japan. Koto are about
180 centimeters length, and made
from kiri wood. They have 13 strings that are
strung over 13 movable bridges along the
width of the instrument
is the Japanese word for flute, and
refers to a class of flutes native to
Japan. Fue come in many varieties,
but are generally high-pitched and
made of a
bamboo called shinobue. The most
popular of the fue is
One of the most popular and oldest of the
A unique fue in that it is a double reed instrument.
used as one of two main melodic instruments in
Japanese gagaku music
Also called the bamboo flute, it is used
for nagauta, the background music used
in kabuki theatre.
Used in Japanese music seeming to have a Chinese
origin. Its sound is said to represent the ascension of
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