Posted by: musicnarts | December 5, 2011

Music and Arts of Japan

The music of Japan includes a wide array of performers in distinct styles both traditional and modern. The word for music in Japanese is 音楽 (ongaku), combining the kanji 音 (“on” sound) with the kanji 楽 (“gaku” funcomfort).[1] Japan is the second largest music market in the world, behind the United States,[2] and most of the market is dominated by Japanese artists.[citation needed]

Local music often appears at karaoke venues, which is on lease from the record labels. Traditional Japanese music has no specific beat[clarification needed], and is calm. In 1873, a British traveler claimed that Japanese music, “exasperate[s] beyond all endurance the European breast.”[3]

Biwa hōshi, Heike biwa, mōsō, and goze

The biwa (琵琶), a form of short-necked lute, was played by a group of itinerant performers (biwa hōshi) (琵琶法師) who used it to accompany stories.[citation needed] The most famous of these stories isThe Tale of the Heike, a 12th century history of the triumph of the Minamoto clan over the Taira[citation needed]. Biwa hōshi began organizing themselves into a guild-like association (tōdō) for visually impaired men as early as the thirteenth century. This guild eventually controlled a large portion of the musical culture of Japan.[citation needed]

In addition, numerous smaller groups of itinerant blind musicians were formed especially in the Kyushu area[citation needed]. These musicians, known as mōsō (盲僧 blind monk) toured their local areas and performed a variety of religious and semi-religious texts to purify households and bring about good health and good luck. They also maintained a repertory of secular genres. The biwa that they played was considerably smaller than the Heike biwa (平家琵琶) played by the biwa hōshi.[citation needed]

Lafcadio Hearn related in his book Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things “Mimi-nashi Hoichi” (Hoichi the Earless), a Japanese ghost story about a blind biwa hōshi who performs “The Tale of the Heike

Blind women, known as goze (瞽女), also toured the land since the medieval era, singing songs and playing accompanying music on a lap drum.[citation needed] From the seventeenth century they often played the koto or the shamisen. Goze organizations sprung up throughout the land, and existed until recently in what is today Niigata prefecture.[citation needed]

Taiko

The taiko is a Japanese drum that comes in various sizes and is used to play a variety of musical genres.[citation needed] It has become particularly popular in recent years as the central instrument of percussion ensembles whose repertory is based on a variety of folk and festival music of the past. Such taiko music is played by large drum ensembles called kumi-daiko. Its origins are uncertain, but can be stretched out as far back as the 7th centuries, when a clay figure of a drummer indicates its existence. China influences followed, but the instrument and its music remained uniquely Japanese.[4] Taiko drums during this period were used during battle to intimidate the enemy and to communicate commands. Taiko continue to be used in the religious music of Buddhism andShintō. In the past players were holy men, who played only at special occasions and in small groups, but in time secular men (rarely women) also played the taiko in semi-religious festivals such as the bon dance.

Modern ensemble taiko is said to have been invented by Daihachi Oguchi in 1951[citation needed]. A jazz drummer, Oguchi incorporated his musical background into large ensembles, which he had also designed. His energetic style made his group popular throughout Japan, and made the Hokuriku region a center for taiko music. Musicians to arise from this wave of popularity included Sukeroku Daiko and his bandmate Seido Kobayashi. 1969 saw a group calledZa Ondekoza founded by Tagayasu Den; Za Ondekoza gathered together young performers who innovated a new roots revival version of taiko, which was used as a way of life in communal lifestyles. During the 1970s, the Japanese government allocated funds to preserve Japanese culture, and many community taiko groups were formed. Later in the century, taiko groups spread across the world, especially to the United States. The video game Taiko Drum Master is based around taiko. One example of a modern Taiko band is Gocoo.

 

By: Google.com

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: