Japanese Music and Musical Instruments

Japanese Music and Musical Instruments

Japanese Music and Musical Instruments

Japanese Music and Musical Instruments

Excerpt

Basil Hall Chamberlain, in his introduction to Konakamura Kabu Ongaku Ryakushi (A Short History of Song and Dance Music, 1887), ended his remarks by saying: "The result of his labours is a work which will be the despair of future investigators, leaving to them, as it would seem to do, nothing further to discover." Since that time there has actually been quite a bit to discover about Japanese music, not only as it relates to dancing or singing, but also in its instrumental development. Sir Francis Piggott was much wiser when he said that his book on Japanese music, published in 1893, was only an introduction to the topic.

Since the appearance of Piggott's book there have been no further major attempts in any Western language to deal at all comprehensively with Japanese music, the few papers on the subject being restricted to specialized aspects. The Japanese have produced several worthwhile books, but these have remained buried in the relative obscurity of the Japanese language. The present book, then, has been written in order that the Western world may know the basic facts about the various forms of Japanese music and musical instruments and their place in the over-all history of Japan. Like Piggott's book, this too can be but an introduction to a most complex subject. I am fortunate, however, in having had many more sources to draw upon than did Piggott.

I have tried to include as much general information as possible for the layman and, for the musicologist, have included brief paragraphs and suggestions concerning more technical matters. For those who wish to pursue the matter further, I have also added at the end of the book a bibliography, a list of recommended recordings, an outline of musical notations, and a guide to Tokyo's somewhat hidden world of Japanese music.

In general, the book has three main orientations: the history of Japanese music, the construction of the instruments, and the music itself. The materials for the history section are drawn primarily from the Japanese sources listed in the Bibliography. The musical analyses are for the most part based on my own research. I have tried to make each chapter a self-contained unit. This has necessitated some slight repetition of information. The organization is, however, as chronological as possible, and reading . . .

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