Japanese Folk Music: National Instruments and Genres
Japanese folk music is a rather distinctive phenomenon due to the isolation of the islands of the Rising Sun and the careful attitude of the people who inhabit them to their culture. Let us first consider some Japanese folk musical instruments, and then the genres characteristic of the musical culture of this country. JAPANESE FOLK MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS Shamisen is one of the most famous musical instruments in Japan, it is one of the analogues of the lute. Shamisen is a plucked three-stringed instrument. It arose from sanshin, which in turn came from Chinese sansyan (both the origin is interesting and the etymology of the names is entertaining). Shamisen is revered today in the Japanese islands: for example, playing this instrument is often used in the traditional Japanese theater – Bunraku and Kabuki. Shamisen training is included in maiko, a program to teach the art of being a geisha. Fue is a family of high-sounding Japanese flutes (most often) that are usually made from bamboo. This flute came from the Chinese paisao flute. The most famous of the fue is shakuhachi, an instrument of Zen Buddhist monks. It is believed that one peasant invented the shakuhachi when he was carrying bamboo and heard the wind blowing a melody in hollow stems. Often, fue, like shamisen, is used to provide musical accompaniment to the actions of the Banraku or Kabuki theater, as well as in various ensembles. In addition, some of the fouets tuned to the western fret (like chromatic instruments) can be soloists. Initially, playing the fue was only the prerogative of stray Japanese monks. Suikin Kutsu is an instrument in the form of an inverted jug, above which water flows, getting inside through openings, it makes it sound. The sound of Suikin Kutsu is somewhat like a bell. This interesting instrument is often used as an attribute of the Japanese garden, played on it before the tea ceremony (which can take place in the Japanese garden). The thing is that the sound of this instrument is very meditative and creates a contemplative mood, which is ideal for immersing in Zen, because staying in the garden and tea ceremony are part of the Zen tradition. Taiko – in translation from Japanese into Russian, this word means “drum”. Just like the counterparts of the drum in other countries, secretly was indispensable in military affairs. At least, this is what the Gunji Yoshu chronicles say: if there were nine in nine hits, then this meant calling an ally into battle, and nine in three meant that the enemy should be actively pursued. Important: during the performances of drummers, attention is drawn to the aesthetics of the performance itself. The appearance of a musical performance in Japan is no less important than the component of a melody or rhythm. MUSICAL GENRES OF THE COUNTRY OF THE RISING SUN Japanese folk music went through several stages of its development: initially it was music and songs of a magical nature (like all nations), then Buddhist and Confucian teachings influenced the formation of musical genres. In many ways, traditional Japanese music is associated with ritual performances, holidays, theatrical performances. Of the most ancient forms of Japanese national music, two genres are known – this is shёmi (Buddhist chants) and gagaku (court orchestral music). And musical genres that have no roots in antiquity are yasugi bushi and enka. Yasugi bushi is one of the most common folk song genres in Japan. It is named after the city of Yasugi, where it was created in the middle of the XIX century. The main topics of Yasuga bushi are considered to be the key moments of local ancient history, and mythopoetic legends about the times of gods. “Yasugi bushi” is the dance “dojo sukui” (where fishing in silt is shown in a comic form) and the art of musical juggling “Zen Zenko”, where hollow bamboo stems filled with coins are used as an instrument. Enka is a genre that was born relatively recently, just something in the post-war period. In Enka, Japanese folk instruments are often woven into jazz or blues music (an unusual mix is obtained), and also a combination of Japanese pentatonic and European minor takes place in it. PECULIARITIES OF JAPANESE FOLK MUSIC AND ITS DIFFERENCE FROM MUSIC OF OTHER COUNTRIES Japanese national music has its own characteristics that distinguish it from the musical cultures of other nations. For example, there are Japanese folk musical instruments – singing wells (Suikin-kutsu). You’ll hardly meet this anywhere else, though there are musical bowls in Tibet, and more? In Japanese music, the rhythm and tempo can constantly change, as well as the lack of size. In the folk music of the country of the Rising Sun, completely different concepts of intervals, they are unusual for European hearing. Japanese folk music is characterized by maximum proximity to the sounds of nature, the desire for simplicity and purity. This is no coincidence: the Japanese are able to show the beautiful in ordinary things.