Culture of Japanese Music

By: Ryan Kistemaker

Music To Dancing

Japanese music is another great case of a protected society. Traditional dances in Japan go back to the Edo period, this is where the Odori dance was created. Mai is a traditional dance starting in western Japan. Odori was made from the Kabuki plays. Mai, was changed by the Noh plays by entertainers wearing detailed carved masks and performed in private rooms.

Traditional Music

One of the main characteristics of traditional Japanese music is its interesting rhythms. Normal harmonies are missing. It is incomprehensible for someone to beat in time to the music. The greater part of the rhythms are ma-based (rhythm of three), and silence is an important part of their music. They do this so that their music sounds like nature. It is normal for the music to start out slow and quiet and then speed up and get loud and then have a long drawn out ending.
Biwa - Japanese traditional music

Three types of Customary japanese music

Customary Japanese music has three fundamental sorts, instrumental, court music, and showy. One kind of showy music is Kabuki. Kabuki music can be sub-partitioned into three classes. The first is Gidayubushi, which is like joruri music. Joruri is a sort of account music that utilizes shamisen and has four styles. The second kind of kabuki music is Shimoza ongaku and is played for the lower seats beneath the theater stage. Another type of dramatic music is called noh. The hayashi-kata play Noh music. They utilize taiko, kotsuzumi, fue, and otsuzumi instruments to make the sounds. The oldest Japanese customary music is gagaku. Gagaku is a type of court music. Gagaku incorporates moves, melodies, and a mix of different sorts of Asian music. There are two styles of Gagaku. These are kigaku, which is a type of instrumental music, and Seigaku, which is A type of vocal music.

Where does the style come from

Some traditional Japanese music started in different nations. A example of this is shomyo. Shomyo is a kind of Buddhist tune that is known for being a song that is added to a sutra. Shomyo started in India and came to Japan during the country's Nara period. An interesting fact about shomyo is that it doesn't utilize any musical instruments. Rather, the melody is sung by Buddhist ministers.


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  • Probst, Robert E. Elements of Literature. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2000. Print.