Tag Archives: Japanese music

About traditional Japanese music you need to know

Archaeological results and Chinese documents both show evidence of music in Japan dating back to the 3rd century BC.

Normally, it is thought that the traditional history of Japanese music dates back to the Nara period (710-794). Japanese music has its roots in the music of Buddhism and the musical traditions of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) in China.

Buddhism was considered the official religion of the court in the 6th century, and the sounds and music theory of Buddhism had a great influence in Japan. Chinese and Korean courts and temples are the source and model for almost all Japanese court and temple music, but due to the strong international impact of Asia since the 7th century to the 10th century, we could see the effects of South and Southeast Asia.

The court dances or instrumental music, collectively known as gagaku, reflect those origins when classified into two categories: togaku is music of Chinese or Indian origin, and komagaku is music from Korea and Manchuria.

Although ancient Japanese musical traditions are preserved to this day, each period creates music styles that better suit the needs and tastes of that period, typically biwa and shakuhachi bamboo flute.

But the new 3-string shamisen was the most representative of the new musical styles of the period from the 16th century to the 19th century. In the 18th century, jorury storytelling was performed by troubadour artists. with the shamisen becoming an important source of literary creation.

Kabuki has used some of the above materials in his plays but has also incorporated other types of music using the shamisen, plus the percussion, flute of Noh plays, and a variety of folk instruments.

The sound of traditional Japanese music may not be easy to hear for first-time listeners. But if you have the opportunity to hear many times, in the festive atmosphere, in traditional plays, you will find it gives you an extremely refreshing, pleasant mood.