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Traditional Music of Japan, The - 02

Traditional Music of Japan, The - 02

Aoki Reibo II
Victor - JL-204
1965

Track Title Kanji Length Shakuhachi Shamisen Koto
1   Midare Rinzetsu 08'00

Nakanoshima Kin'ichi
As one of the instrumental pieces of Koto music, which is rare in the repertoire, Midare, literally means, disorder. It represents the varied style of Dan-mono which consists of several sections (dan). Each section of a piece is composed with the identical number of measures. The number of measures of each section in the piece Hachidan (Eight Sections) is the same as that in the piece Rokudan (six sections). Rokudan was composed a little earlier than Hachidan as the first of the Dan-mono pieces. Consequently, people used to enjoy the simultaneous performance of these two compositions as a duet. Contrary to this, the present piece, Midare, consists of twelve dans, the length of each differing from the others, This is why the piece is named Midare (disorder).

Another feature of the form is a kind of free variation as in the case of other Dan-mono pieces. (Note: this piece is interpreted by Koto musicians of the Ikuta School as having ten sections, while in the Yamada School as having twelve sections. The performer of this record belongs to the Yamada school).
2   Wakana 若菜 13'05 Torii Kyomudo Abe Keiko Fujii Kunie
This is an example of the Tegoto-mono (a style of song having a big instrumental section). Koto music was formerly often composed as ensemble music for Koto and Shamisen (Sangen) with song. Some pieces were written first for the Shamisen and later the Koto part was added by another composer. Wakana was composed by Matsuura Kengyo (---1822) of Kyoto for the Shamisen and later for the Koto by Yaezaki Kengyo (---1848) of Kyoto. The Shakuhachi began to join the ensemble of these two stringed instruments toward the end of the Edo Period (the earlier half of the 19th century). The Shakuhachi part (the name of composer is
unknown) follows almost the same melodic line of the Shamisen, while the Koto and Shamisen parts figure in a kind of polyphony. The piece is composed in three sections, the first song (Mae-uta), the second, an instrumental section (Tegoto), and finally, the ending song (Ato-uta). The melody of the first and last songs, while being written with different texts, is the same. The first is sung, however, in a much slower tempo, especially at the very beginning. This extremely slow tempo is characteristic of Koto music in the Ikuta school.

The instrumental section consists of two parts, Tegoto and Chirashi. The first part, Tegoto, begins in a slow tempo and gradually becomes faster. This is a general tendency of Japanese traditional music, Gagaku, Noh, Koto, Shamisen, etc. In the second part, Chirashi, literally meaning to scatter, the music becomes more and more complex and brilliant. The Koto is tuned in Hirajoshi and the Shamisen in Niagari. Throughout the entire piece the tuning remains the same. But, in other pieces, often in longer pieces including more than two instrumental sections, the tuning of both the Koto and Shamisen is changed. In other words a modulation occurs.

The text describes the mild, early spring when nightingales and other birds begin to sing upon the branches of bamboo and plum trees. It mentions the did custom of young girls picking greens (Wakana) in the early spring for food.

The final song is omitted on this record. The Shamisen is referred to as Sangen as was the case in Koto music and Jiuta.
3   Kokû Reibo 虚空鈴慕 07'11 Aoki Reibo II

The most representative composition of the thirty six instrumental solos or duets which make up the repertoire of the Kinko school is called Kinkoryu Honkyoku. This is also one of the representative Shakuhachi solo pieces adapted from the repertoire of the Fuke Shakuhachi. Regarding the title, Koku means heaven, and Reibo means to yearn. Actually, this music was composed by an unknown priest yearning to ring the bell previously rung by Fuke Zenji, the founder of the Fuke sect. It can be heard, as the story goes, in heaven.

There is no specific musical form in the Western sense for this piece. The composition was definitely composed by Kurosawa Kinko (1710-1771). The recording here is an abbreviation of about one third the original composition.
4   Kosu no To 小簾の戸 09'30
Tomiyama Seikin V
This is representative of the short songs of the Jiuta genre describing the amorous scene of lovers. The title, meaning a bamboo screen door for summer, does not occur in the text, but represents the summer season and also the shaded and refined expression of sentences for the love scene. The great refinement is the basic aesthetic of the song, although the style and atmosphere of the music is more archaic and subtle than Ko-uta of a later period, based upon the same aesthetics. The text was written by a Geisha of Osaka and the music was composed by Minezaki Koto (ca 1760- ca 1800) who composed masterpieces of the Tegoto style. This record was made in a specific way. The performer first sang accompanying himself with Sangen. Then he played the Kokyu by listening to the tape of his previously recorded singing and Sangen. The Shamisen is tuned in Honchoshi.
5   Renjishi 連獅子 17'39


This is one of the representative Nagauta pieces for the Kabuki dance-drama. The plot and text are adapted from the Noh piece named Shakkyo by Kineya Shojiro (1828? -1896). It had its premiere performance in 1861 on the Kabuki stage of Tokyo. The story is concerned with a lion living on a high, sacred mountain in China. As the king of animals, he trains his son by pushing him into a deep ravine. The music as well as the text is full of heroics and has a stirring atmosphere about it.

The record begins with an instrumental introduction for the curtain together with the beautiful clapping sound of the Hyoshigi (wooden clappers). The introduction is performed by the ensemble of percussion instruments which are played in a chamber on the left corner of the stage. The "chamber" ensemble which consists of various kinds of percussion instruments (over 20), flutes and Shamisens as well as singing is termed Geza Hayashi and it serves as background music for Kabuki. This is true not only for the dancing but for each scene of the drama as well. It helps to create a truly astonishing mood and atmosphere. The style of performance varies in hundreds of ways.

The first section in the specific singing style called Ozatsuma, is suitable for strong expression. It describes the high, sacred mountain and a stone bridge with lions and flowers. The mountain is said to be the place where a bodhisattva lived. The song is followed by the Hayashi of the same instrumentation as that of the Noh (flute, and three kinds of drums). The players of the Hayashi sit on the platform placed at the rear of the stage and to the side. The platform is covered with red carpet and the singers and Shamisen players are also seated behind the Hayashi. The ensemble piece called Gaku (music) is an adaptation from the Hayashi piece of Noh having the same name. It represents the heavenly atmosphere of the mountain. This interlude is followed by the main section of the plot portraying a dance between the two lions in which the father is training his son. This main section begins with strong singing by the chorus and is followed by a short, quiet and slower interlude of the Shamisen accompanied by a flute. A solo song follows in slow tempo. This is the musical highlight. Here, the text describes the young lion taking a rest from trying to climb a steep cliff. The main singing section is followed by another dance accompanied by the Shamisen and the Hayashi. The music of the Hayashi in this instance, is based on the lion dance of the Noh piece from which the Shamisen piece is adapted. The dance and music depict the brave figures of two lions racing around. The entire composition ends with the chorus accompanied by both Shamisen tutti and the Hayashi. An additional section with the Shamisen together with the Hayashi is performed to close the curtain. The Hayashi remains playing for a while after the curtain has been closed until the last stroke of the clapper informs the listener of the conclusion of the performance. The tuning of the Shamisen is in Honchoshi, except for the section omitted on this record which is tuned in Niagari.

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