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Traditional Music of Japan, The - 03

Traditional Music of Japan, The - 03

Aoki Reibo II
Victor - JL-205

Track Title Kanji Length Shakuhachi Shamisen Koto
1   Yasuna 保名 15'00

Yasuna is one of the most representative pieces of Kiyomoto for Kabuki dancing. The title of the piece comes from the name of a mad man who is portrayed by the solo dancer. Originally, the piece was a part of suite entitled Miyama no hana todokanu edaburi, which consisted of seven pieces. Five of these accompanied by Nagauta, one by Kiyomoto and one by Tokiwazu. A dancer performs as the principal actor throughout all the pieces, changing roles and consequently changing costumes. This kind of dance suite is called Henge-mono and the number' of pieces making up a suite vary to five, six, seven or nine. This suite was performed for the first time in 1818 on the Kabuki stage in Edo.

The plot is simple. Yasuna becomes mad over his lover's suicide and trudges along the spring fields covered with yellow flowers. He thinks back to the happy' days of the past which he shared with her.

This recording omits the beginning and starts from Yasuna's monologue. In the middle, the' section called Kudoki, there is a description of those happy days of love which has a highly refined and beautiful melodic line. Near the conclusion, a section is performed with Shamisen in the tuning of Niagari, while most of the other 'sections are in Honchoshi. The Niagari section is accompanied by a Kotsuzumi (smaller drum of the Noh).
2   Kawakaze ni Tsui Sasowarete 川風に 01'47

Kawakaze ni is an example of the shortest song in Kouta. As previously mentioned, Kouta is a rather recent style of Shamisen music, and, since the Meiji Era, numerous pieces have been composed in both older and newer styles. The present example is the older style.

The text is a short epic poem describing a boat excursion on the Sumida River in order to enjoy the cool wind over the river. The title comes from the first phrase which says, 'being tempted by the wind over the river.'

The main Shamisen (Honte) is tuned in Honchoshi, while accompanied by the second Shamisen (Kaete) of the same tuning which plays different melodies. The Shamisen of Kouta is usually played with the nail of the index finger of the right hand instead of with a plectrum. Another characteristic of Kouta is a short Shamisen section as the conclusion. This is very rare in traditional Shamisen music. In short, the composer attempts to condense the refined, subtle and attractive taste of the Edo Period in this short song.
3   Satsuma Sa さつまさ 01'33

Satsuma sa is another example of a very short song of Kouta accompanied by a Shamisen tuned in Niagari.
The text relates:
To Satsuma-
To Satsuma
I scull my boat as fast as I can
But the tide
Why, it's dead low
And my oar does me no good.
(Translation by Dr. Richard N. McKinnon, University of Washington, Seattle, U. S. A.)
4   Dodoitsu 都々逸 03'29

This is the most representative Shamisen popular song common throughout Japan. It originates in a folk song of the Itako district named Itako-bushi. The gradual change to the present style was established by a singer of popular songs named Dodoitsubo Kasen (1796-1852). This text has 27 syllables in the order of 7-7-8-5. There are innumerable texts and the varied style of performance has given rise to additional texts from other Shamisen music or improvised dialogues inserted between the phrases.

The record here is an example of the older style-of performance not having additional phrases. The title of the piece, Dodoitsu, comes from the meaningless interjection given to Nagoya-bushi. This is a varied style of the original, Itakobushi, which was in fashion in Nagoya at the beginning of the 19th century.
5   Kiso Bushi 木曽節 01'50

This is a folk song of the Kiso mountain district in Nagano prefecture northeast of Nagoya. It was a song for a Sake party and called, Nakanori-san. Later, at the end of the Meiji Era, a Bon-dance was devised for the song and the name was changed to Kisobushi which became popular throughout Japan. Bon or Urabon as previously mentioned is an old Buddhist festival held in the summer throughout the country to call upon the spirits of the dead. In town and country people gather to the dance festival in which they enjoy the Bon dance of their own district.

Nakanori-san, the older name of the piece, means raftsman and appears again and again in each stanza. The first stanza is as follows.

Raftsmen of Kiso
That great peak in Kiso
Is freezing even in summer
We wish we could give it
Some warm clothing
And warm stockings, too.

The song is accompanied by the Shamisen tuned in Honchoshi and the Taiko. It is composed in the Yo-mode.
6   Esashi Oiwake 江差追分 02'16

This is a folk song of the Esashi district of South Hokkaido. Esashi Oiwake is also a very popular song for a Sake party. Oiwake used to be a horseman's song (Mago-uta) of Oiwake village of Nagano Prefecture and was brought to Esashi of Hokkaido where the melody was modified to a great extent and enlarged by adding two more sections, one before and one after the song proper. Thus, the present form of this song consists of three sections: Maeuta (beginning song); Hon-uta (main part or original song) and Ato-uta (final Song). The text was also changed to describe nature, customs and fishing in the district of Esashi along the Japan Sea instead of a horseman's life in the mountains. In addition the Shakuhachi is used to accompany the singing which has a free rhythm instead of a mechanical, fitted rhythm. Only the first section is chosen for this record.
7   Tsugaru Aiya Bushi 津軽あいや節 01'48

Tsugaru Aiya-bushi is the most interesting and representative example of the broad diffusion of folk songs in Japan. Aiya-bushi of Tsugaru, the northern end of Honshu, called Aomori Prefecture today, has its roots in the Aiya-bushi of Kyushu. It was brought to northeast Japan through the Japan Sea. It then spreads to various districts. The basic melodic figures of Aiya-bushi of Aomori and the Aiya-bushi of Nagasaki resemble each other although the text, which is often the case, has been changed.

Once again this is an example of a Sake party song. It is more rhythmic; than the others, however, and is accompanied by the Shamisen tuned in Niagari and a Taiko.

The interesting feature of this song is the method of playing the Shamisen which rarely occurs in entire genres of Shamisen music. Contrary to the specific rhythmic figure of the Shamisen, the singing £lows smoothly with frequent melissma slowing the influence of the narrative style of song. After a few stanzas, one of which is recorded here, a fairly long, comical story is sung in a narrative style. The text of this folk song tells about the local life of the district and is sung in colloquial Japanese to a great extent.
8   Hadesugata Onna Maiginu 艶姿女舞衣 19'46

This is short extract from a much longer piece entitled Hadesugata Onna Maiginu. This drama for the doll theater, which today is called Bunraku, was first performed in 1772 in Osaka. It is divided into three chapters which are further subdivided into two or three sections (dan). The present record is the extract from the last dan of the third chapter. The title of this dan, Sakaya no dan, means the section of scene of a Sake (Japanese wine) shop.

The story of Sakaya no dan is concerned with a young woman, Osono, whose husband, Hanshichi, the owner of the Sake shop, accidentally has killed a ruffian and for this crime is pursued by the police. While married to Osono, he falls in love with a courtesan, Sankatsu, and has a daughter by her.

Osono, his wife, is a very representative wife of a merchant in the feudal society of the Edo period. She loves her husband, being truly faithful not only to her husband, but to her parents and her husband's parents as well. She suffers, of course, from jealousy, love, feudal customs, morals and obligation. Finally, she sacrifices her marriage permitting her husband to go with the courtesan even though she knows they intend to commit suicide.

The record begins with the singing of Osono's monologue. She sits alone thinking over all that has happened between herself and her husband and is deeply depressed. The singing is the most famous moment in Gidayu melody and, at the same time, most representative. This is followed by the scene where the illegitimate child has been brought to Osono's home, wakes up, and wants to drink milk. Both the parents of Osono and her husband's parents gather in the room and are astonished by finding the baby. In the kimono of the baby they find a message from Osono's husband which informs them of his intention to commit suicide. This section is performed by narration and dialogue as well as a few singing phrases. Narration by the singer is in two ways. The first called Giai is close to pure narration and the other called Iro is between pure narration and singing (Fushi). The Dialogue of all persons and all emotions (male and female, old and young, high and low social class) is performed by the one singer with a real nuance of conversation. The merit of Gidayu is to be found in this point. It is that a singer can, ,by himself, manage the elements of narration, dialogue and singing so convincingly. The record ends with the singing which informs the listener of the appearance of the lovers who have come to get a final glimpse of the baby before their double suicide.

One who has never seen the doll-theater can hardly imagine how skillfully and to what extent realism can be found in the hands of the puppeteer-three for each. doll. The chief puppeteer manages the body, head and right arm, even the eyes, mouth, eyebrows, fingers, etc. The second puppeteer is in charge of only the left arm while the third only the legs. The cooperation between the singer, Shamisen. player and puppeteer is truly incredible and the most unique aspect of the doll theater. Bunraku cannot be compared to any other puppet theater of the world.

The Shamisen is tuned in Honchoshi. At the singing section in the middle of the record another .Shamisen is heard in unison with the . first Shamisen. In the final section of singing a kind of shout or call by the Shamisen player is heard. The shout in music has been explained concerning Noh music and it has an important role in Gidayu as well, especially regarding refinement and the total effect.
9   Kanda Bayashi 神田囃子 08'15

This is one, example from the numerous folkloric ensembles of percussion and £lute generally called the Hayashi. In Tokyo and its suburban area, there are many shrines which have seasonal festivals mainly in September and October. On the temporary stage of the shrine or on the street the Hayashi music and folkloric dance-dramas are performed for the public. The Hayashi is generally called Matsuri Hayashi (festival Hayashi). Kanda Bayashi is one of them, which is used in the Kanda district of downtown Tokyo. The ensemble usually consistes of a flute, two flat barrel drums played with two sticks, a gong and a big drum. They are named in a specific way. Tonbi is the name of the flute instead of fue; Shirabe (shime-daiko), Yosuke (Atarigane) and Odaiko respectively. The repertoire includes Yatai, Shoden, Makakura, Shichome, Kandamaru, Kirin, Kakko, Shishi, etc.

The International Shakuhachi Society - 2018