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 inhabiting them to their culture.
Consider first some Japanese folk musical instruments, and then genres characteristic of the musical culture of this country.
Japanese folk musical instruments
Syamis is one of the most famous musical instruments in Japan, it is one of the analogs of the lute. Syamien is a plucked three-stringed instrument. It originated from the sansin, which in turn originated from the Chinese Sansun (and the origin is interesting, and the etymology of the names is entertaining).
Syamis is revered in the present time on the Japanese islands: for example, playing this instrument is often used in traditional Japanese theater - Bunraku and Kabuki. Learning to play shamisen is included in maiko - a program of learning the art of being a geisha.
Fue - This is a family of high-sounding Japanese flutes (most often) that are usually made from bamboo. There was this flute from the Chinese pipe "payiso." The most famous of the fou - shakuhachi, a tool of Zen Buddhist monks. It is believed that a peasant invented the shakuhachi when he was carrying bamboo and heard the wind blowing the melody in hollow stems.
Often, fue, like the shamisen, are used for musical accompaniment to the theater of Banraku or Kabuki, as well as in various ensembles. In addition, some of the fou that are tuned to the western scale (like chromatic instruments) can be solo. Initially, the fue game was only the prerogative of wandering Japanese monks.
Suikinkutsu - an instrument in the form of an inverted jug, over which water flows, getting inside through the holes, it makes it sound. The sound of suikinkutsu is somewhat like a bell.
This interesting tool is often used as an attribute of the Japanese garden, played on it before the tea ceremony (which can be held 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 diving in Zen, because the stay in the garden and the tea ceremony are part of the Zen tradition.
Taiko - translated from Japanese into Russian, this word means "drum". Just like drum analogues in other countries, Taiko was indispensable in military affairs. At least, the chronicles of Gunzi Esyu say this: if there were nine to nine blows, then this meant an ally’s call into battle, and nine to three signified that the enemy must be actively pursued.
Important: during performances drummers draws attention 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.
Music genres of the Land 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 influences influenced the formation of musical genres. In many ways, traditional Japanese music is associated with ceremonial performances, festivals, theatrical performances.
Of the most ancient forms of Japanese national music, two genres are known - this is syom (Buddhist chants) and Gagaku (court orchestral music). And music genres that have no roots in antiquity are yasugi busi and enka.
Yasugi busi - one of the most common genres of folk songs in Japan. It is named after the city of Yasugi, where it was created in the middle of the XIX century. The main themes of Yasugi Busi consider the key points of local ancient history, and the mythopoetic legends about the times of the gods.
“Yasugi Busi” is both a “dojo sukui” dance (where fishing in the mud is shown in comic form) and the art of “jeni daiko” music juggling, where hollow bamboo stalks filled with coins are used as instruments.
Enka - This is a genre that originated relatively recently, only after the war. In enke, Japanese folk instruments are often woven into jazz or blues music (an unusual mix is made), and it also combines Japanese pentatonic with a European minor.
Features of Japanese folk music and its difference from the 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 (suikinkutsu). You can hardly find such somewhere else, although 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 there are completely different notions of intervals, they are unusual for European hearing.
For Japanese folk music is characterized by the maximum proximity to the sounds of nature, the desire for simplicity and purity. This is no accident: the Japanese are able to show the beautiful in ordinary things.
By Arthur Viter