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Traditional Music of Japan, The - 01

Traditional Music of Japan, The - 01

Aoki Reibo II
Victor - JL-203

Track Title Kanji Length Shakuhachi Shamisen Koto
1   Banshikicho Netori 盤渉調音取 01'05

Netori is a very short piece which is played just before the performance of Kangen in a concert. Originally this might have been a free playing of each instrument to check the tuning based upon the pitch of the Sho which is fixed and also as a warm-up. However, later it became formalized into a piece helping to create the atmosphere for the music which was to follow. For this reason, Netori has six variations, one for each of the six tonalities. The recorded piece is in Banshikicho. Netori is a good composition in which to listen to the sound of each instrument, which is more difficult to do in the performance of other pieces. It begins with the Sho (mouth-organ), which is followed by the Hichiriki (oboe). Then the Ryuteki (flute) joins in while the Kakko(side drum) begins its beat. The Biwa (lute) and So (zither) concludes the Netori.
2   Banshikicho Etenraku 盤渉調越天楽 10'10

One of three pieces having the same title, Etenraku and being composed in three tonalities, Banshikicho, Hyojo, and Oshikicho. The present piece is composed in Banshikicho and is said to be the oldest of the three, although Etenraku in Hyojo is best known in Japan. This has been performed by Stokowsky in the U.S.A. The original Etenraku is transposed to other tonalities by moving the key, that is, from Banshiki (b) to Hyojo (e) or Oshiki (a). However, the transposition is not the same as for Western music. Because of the narrower range of the Ryuteki and Hichiriki, the melody is changed and in addition, the composer (or arranger) can change the melody to some extent. But the chords of the Sho are mechanically transposed based upon the new key and the form of the original piece is strictly maintained. Pieces transposed in this way are called generally, Watashi-mono. In older times there were about one hundred examples of this, but only twenty are preserved today.

The present piece is a small, one-movement composition, consisting of 24 measures in 4/4, which is divided into three phrases of 8 measures, A, B, and C. Usually this piece is performed in the following way: A, A, B, B, C, C, A, A, B, B. At the very end a short stylized coda is added. This form, however, should not be regarded as a Western ternary form, because the Phrase C, called Juto, can be omitted when the piece is performed in an abbreviated style.

The most noteworthy and interesting feature of this recording is that the piece is performed in a special style called Nokorigaku, literally meaning remaining music. It resembles the authentic performance of Haydn's Farewell Symphony, except the musicians do not disappear from the stage. While three phrases are repeated, the performers stop -playing in the following way. First, three percussion instruments stop, then three wind instruments (except the leaders, one for each section) stop. Next, the Ryuteki and Sho stop. Two string instruments, the 'Biwa and the So together with one wind instrument, the Hichiriki continue performing, while the Hichiriki occasionally stops and the So is played with additional arpeggios. Then, the assistant players of the Biwa and So stop. Finally the Biwa leader stops and only the So leader remains. The So continues and quietly finishes with a short coda. Improvisation is found to some extent when the Hichiriki leader occasionally stops and the So leader inserts ornamentation.
3   Koma Ichikotsucho Konetori 高麗壱越調小音取 01'10

Ko-Netori means a small Netori, which is an abbreviated performance style of Netori. Ko-Netori here is that of the Ichikotsucho tonality of Koma-gaku (Korean music) or Right Music. It is often performed as the introductory piece of Komagaku. For example, Kitoku begins with a piece called Koma-ranjo for the entrance of dancer, which is followed by Ko-Netori, during the Ko-Netori dancers stand still on the stage. The Ko-Netori begins with the Komabue (flute) which is followed by the Hichiriki and Sanno-tsuzumi (side drum).
4   Kitoku Kyu 貴徳急 04'17

Kitoku is a dance piece belonging to the Right Dance (Korean Dance). It is said that Kitoku was the name of a Chinese lord of the Han Dynasty who controlled Hun (the present Mongolia). This piece was composed in memory of his victory over that land. Another opinion, historically more credible, is that this piece originated in Manchuria and was introduced to Japan through Korea. The dance is performed by a dancer wearing a special costume and a mask with a high bridged nose. Two assistant dancers who act as the attendants of the lord, stand on the side of the stage and bring, a halberd to the lord.

The piece consists of two movements called Ha and Kyu, which are the two last parts of the previously mentioned Jo-Ha-Kyu form of Bugaku. Ha is played in 4/4 and Kyu in 2/2. The Kyu forms three parts, the first (8 measures) introducing the main theme, the second (8 measures) presents an inserted melody, and the third (16 measures) gives the secondary theme. Instrumentation is in the' previously mentioned style of Right Dance accompaniment; Komabue (flute), Hichiriki, San-no-tsuzumi (side drum), Shoko (gong) and Taiko (big drum)
5   Sonokoma Agebyoshi 其駒揚拍子 05'25

Sonokoma is the name of the last song of eleven songs which make up the court ritual ceremony called Kagura. The text of this short song simply says, 'let us feed our horse,' and the title sonokoma is taken from the first word of the text, meaning 'that horse.' The piece is performed twice, the first time in a slower tempo called Sandobyoshi, and the second time in a faster tempo called Age-byoshi. In the latter, the piece is danced by a dancer dressed in the costume of an ancient civil bureaucrat.
6   Rongi 論議 03'20

Among the numerous kinds of Buddhist charting for ceremonies, Rongi, literally meaning discussion, occupies a, special position. This is because Rongi is performed in the ceremony at which common people do not attend. Those in attendance are only priests in charge of the ceremony, teachers and students. Rongi, used to be a kind of examination through which every priest was qualified and authorized. Later it became formalized into a ceremony held every five years under the attendance of the Emperor's messenger. This is so even today. It is held simultaneously with the ceremony of Hokketaikai which is the biggest event of the Tendai sect, held at Enryakuji Temple on Mt. Hiei, near Kyoto. The discussion in the Rongi ceremony refers to every discipline of Buddhism. In the present record, the discussion refers to the most basic disciplines: how to believe and learn the text of Hokekyo (in Sanscrit Saddharmapundarika-sutra)., This was brought to Japan by Saicho, the founder of the Tendai sect.

On this record, the chanting of Rongi is performed by two priests, a teacher and a student, in antiphonal style. It consists of the teacher's question and the student's answer. The melodic feature of the chanting of Rongi is rather simple compared to the other chants of the Tendai sect. But it shows modification of Buddhist chanting from the older and more Chinese style to the later and Japanese style.
7   Funabenkei 船弁慶 16'52

Band 7 presents a part of the first act (Maejite) of a Noh play entitled, Funabenkei, meaning "Benkei on the boat," and Band 8 presents the entire scene of the second act (Nochi-jite) of the drama. The drama of Funabenkei is concerned with a famous historical story of the Genji (or Minamoto) family which established the first Shogunate (feudal lord) in 1192. Yoshitsune, the younger brother of the lord, was forced by the lord to escape from Kyoto. He planned to go west of Japan by boat. His sweetheart, Shizuka, accompanied him to the harbor where Yoshitsune had to leave her because of the hard journey by boat. At the farewell party she danced for him with sad grief and sympathy because of his unhappiness in the struggle with his brother. The present record begins with music of the dance, Chu-no-mai, which is performed in an abbreviated style, that is, the second and third sections of the four sections which construct the whole dance piece, are omitted. The dance is accompanied by the ensemble (hayashi) consisting of three instruments without the Taiko (the flat drum played with two sticks). The Taiko is used only for the second act of this drama. The dance is followed by the melancholy singing of Shizuka and the chorus, telling that Yoshitsune and his party are getting on board and Shizuka stares at Yoshitsune and cries.

Another important feature of Noh music which seems strange and unfamiliar to the uninitiated is a kind of shout or call, (Kakegoe in Japanese). Shouts such as ho, yo, iya, etc., are given by the drummers. The purpose and effect of these shouts are to some extent the same as musical shouts of other nations. However, in the case of Noh music, the necessity and importance of the shout is much greater, and the style and performance of shouts are highly refined. The shout itself is an integral part of the music.
8   Funabenkei 船弁慶

At the end of Act I the Shite (principal actor) as Shizuka went to the back stage to change costume and mask. The new mask is that of the ghost of Taira no Tomomori who was .a general of the Heike or Taira family, the enemy of the Minamoto family, and was destroyed by that family. Before the appearance of the Shite in the second act, there is the voyage scene of Yoshitsune and Benkei, his .first attendant, and others together with a boatman performed by the Kyogen. While upon the sea they are engulfed by a savage storm. The second act begins with the chorus describing the imaginative scene of the huge navy of the fallen Heike family. This is immediately followed by the appearance of the ghost of Tomomori at the curtain of the passage stage (Hashigakari). When Tomomori announce’s his name, the curtain is closed, and to the accompaniment of a fast instrumental ensemble piece, Haya-fue (fast-flute), the ghost runs on to the stage. The chorus sings at the beginning of the struggle between Tomomori and Yoshitsune which is continued in the intense dance-fight accompanied by the Hayashi in a piece called Maibataraki (dancing movement). After the dance the party begins praying by rubbing rosaries and finally the ghost is driven away by prayer. During the chorus illustrating these last scenes, the shout of the boatman is heard.
9 Koatsumori 小敦盛 08'24

This episode from a historic story of the twelfth century was adapted from a chapter of the Heike Monogatari (Tales of the Heike, Taira Family). It is presented in a narrative style of singing, accompanied by the Biwa of the Satsuma-biwa school played by the singer. The story is concerned with a teenage warrior of the Taira family named Atsumori. The title Ko-Atsumori (young Atsumori) is taken from his name. When the Taira family was wiped out by the enemy, the Minamoto family, and driven away from the capital, Kyoto, to the West, Atsumori, who loved to play the flute, 'returned to get his favorite flute. Consequently, he missed the boat taking his family away. Kumagaya Naozane, a strong warrior of the Minamoto family captured Atsumori, in a fierce fight. When Kumagaya found that Atsumori was only a boy of sixteen he remembered his own son of the same age who had died in a battle shortly before. He wanted to save this young warrior, but being watched by his comrades, Kumagaya could not prevent Atsumori from being killed. After this he retired from the army and spent the remainder ,of his life as a Buddhist priest praying for the dead. The story is a beautifully written piece of literature which represents a lament for the sad fate of warriors and for the transitory state of life. Buddhism dominated the morals of the feudal society, and is the philosophical base for the story.

This record is only the beginning of the entire piece which is divided into two parts or dan. The first 'phrase is introduced from the well known first phrase of the Tales of Heike, describing the Buddhist idea of transitory life. The following phrases relate the story up to the scene of the meeting of the two warriors.

The style of performance, where the singer accompanies himself with a Satsumabiwa, is older and more authentic than others where the style is softer and more musical. The instrument plays only during the interludes between the phrases of singing. The melodies of both singing and accompaniment are based upon stereotyped melodic patterns. For example, the first phrase is based upon a pattern called Utai-dashi (beginning song); the second phrase, following the interlude after the first phrase, and which describes the young handsome warrior is sung in the pattern called Gingawari used for a softer expression. The end of the sixth phrase, which describes the attack by the warrior upon the young boy, is sung in the pattern called Kuzure, which is adequately strong for a battle scene.

The International Shakuhachi Society - 2017