Friday, February 15, 2013

Zensho And To Live Complete - Japanese Music Style, Gagaku

The word GAGAKU means elegant, correct, or refined music. In the Heian period ( 7th cent.), over thirty kinds of instruments were used to perform the music of China,Korea, India, and the native music of Japan.
Gagaku is the earliest significant forms of Japanese
music. It shares with Kabuki music the distinction of having instruments in each of the three basic orchestral
units, percussion, strings, and winds. While it does not
take full advantage of its orchestral possibilites, as
does Kabuki, it is considered by some to be the only "true" orchestral music of Japan.
There are four types of Gagaku-
· KANGEN instrumental music
· BUGAKU dance music
· RITUAL MUSIC for Shinto Ceremonies
The present Bugaku, as well as Kangen, is classified
into two groups. SAHO (left) and UHO (right). Saho music of the left consists mainly of the music of China and
several pieces originating in India. Uho music of the right
is mostly from Korea and a few pieces from Manchuria.
This classification seems to represent the combination
of the ancient ideas in Japan that the left, sometimes
associated with the spiritual and peaceful, is superior
to the right, the more physical and earthly. Also, the
fact that at the time, Chinese music was more popular
than Korean music. Music pieces composed in Japan were also classified in either the right or left style.
The pieces of Gagaku repertoire are classified further
into small, medium, and large pieces. The distinction may
have originated from the number of players required to
accompany the dances. The large and medium pieces
usually follow the JO-HA-KYU form, though there is
indications that some pieces had a forth section, EI,
between the HA and KYU sections. This is a stylistic
tradition of many arts in Japan. They mean,(slow) introduction, (faster) development, and (rushing) break or conclusion. The smaller pieces tend to have only a HA and KYU sections. The tempi are generally very slow and the differences between slow and fast do not vary
much to
the extent of Western music.
Another notable performance style is a kind of free-
style cannon. In the performance of the Jo movement of (left) Bugaku, the principle SHO ( mouth organ) starts a
melody. Then a second Sho player starts several beats
later. He is followed by a third. The chief HICHIRIKI
(oboe) joins the Sho group, then a second player behind
him and so on. The Flutists join the ensemble in the same
fashion. Thus the entire group of three different wind
sections form a free-style cannon in a free rhythm creating a chaotic sound with great dynamism. This same
performance style is found in six pieces called CHOSHIN.
CHOSHIN are used for the entrance of dancers to the
Much of the pleasure of Gagaku is the archaic flavor.
To those accustomed to the dynamic drive of Western
symphonic music, the static beauty of Gagaku may
seem very strange. Listening to Gagaku is a history
lesson in sound and a "time-machine" trip back into the
soul of the Heian courtier. As it stands, it is a shadow
of its former self and yet it is still one of the clearest
views left of the grandeur and artistic tastes of the
court of ancient Japan.
sources : JAPANESE MUSIC AND MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS William P Malm 1959 Tuttle Publ co.
Kishibe Shigeo 1984 Ongaku no Tomo Sha co.
the Diagram Group 1997 Sterling Publ. co.
Timothy Jordan was bon in Detroit Michigan where he began a career in music at a very early age. Having studied with the regions top teachers and performers he set off on his own "MUSO SHUGYO" or musical wanderings and ended up in Boston, Mass. While there he has performed in some of the countless top music groups, touring, and recording for live, television, theatre and movies. His percussion skills took him to Japan where he had an intensive study with the drummers of KODO. Mr. Jordan also has studied several martial arts styles including Iaido, the Japanese Sword. He continues to day to further his cultural studies and is currently the owner of an Asian art and cultural goods internet retail business, LIVE COMPLETE and ZENSHO PRODUCTS

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