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Theydeserveit >> Music>>Japanese Instrumental Music

Japanese Instrumental Music

Japan is a country that deeply values its heritage and music is one of the traditional arts that it cherishes and holds in high esteem. Japanese Instrumental Music is a form of time-honored musical genre in Japan. Japanese Music is of varied hues - solo music, chamber music, court

music, festival and folk music, different types of theater music, percussion music and so on. Traditional Japanese music is essentially contemplative in nature and has a lingering and thoughtful tempo.

The history of Japanese Music has been traced by historians to the 4th century AD, when Japanese monks were sent to China, and they came back after having studied, among other things different forms of art. They brought back to Japan various musical instruments and styles. The major style of music that was adopted is known by the Japanese name of Gagaku, which means 'elegant' or 'refined music'. It came into Japan around 612 and rapidly became the honored music of the court. Though primarily of Chinese origin, Gagaku was also interspersed with Korean and Indian influences.

The instruments that formed a 'Gagaku' ensemble at the initial stages, that is during the 7th century, were of three types: percussion, string and wind. The percussion instruments were -- the enormous 'da-daiko' or 'ninai-Daiko' drums, and some smaller drums, gongs, cymbals as well as certain smaller instruments. There are three stringed instruments -- the 'wagon', a 7-stringed table zither, the 'gaku-so', a 13-stringed table zither, and the 'gaku-biwa', a 4-stringed lute. The wind instruments include - 'hichirik'i, a short double-reed instrument, the 'sho', a mouth organ, and three flutes: the 'kagura-bu'e, the 'koma-bue' and the 'ryutek'i. In the beginning, the 'shakuhachi' was also part of theGagaku orchestra, but was later removed.

By the end of the 14th century, Japan developed the Noh drama which had its own special music called 'Nohgaku'. The Nohgaku has two elements in it: vocal and instrumental. The vocal part is called 'Utai', and is performed by the actors and a chorus. The instrumental part is known as 'Hayashi', and is made up of a bamboo flute, or 'nohkan', and three drums-'ko-tsuzumi', 'o-tsuzumi', and 'taiko'.

The Azuchi-Momoyama Period is significant for the historical improvement of many instruments. The primitive recorder was adapted to become the 'shakuhachi', and the zither became the deep 'koto'. The shamisen (a three-stringed balalaika-type guitar) also took on its present form.

The traditional elements that are used in Japanese Instrumental Music are as follows - Biwa
Okawa, also called Otsuzumi
Taiko, or Wadaiko, and
Tsuzumi, or Kotsuzumi.

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