Japanese song set

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  1. Piece for SHAKUHACHI and SHAMISEN accompaniment. This version is performed for a KABUKI play and depicts a winter scene with cranes making their nests as two lovers watch. Note the sound effects such as fast trills (rapid alternation between two pitches) to imitate a crane’s fluttering wings, the use of vibrato (making the note pulse or shimmer slightly), and sudden changes of dynamics (loud and soft), and any important unpitched sounds (blowing through instrument).
    Tsuru no sugomori
  2. This example of a KOUTA was recorded in the 1960s by the geisha Shitaya Kotsuru in Tokyo. Geisha composed and popularized kouta sometime during the late EDO or TOKUGAWA (1600-1867), around the mid-1800s. One of the earliest composers was O-Yo, the daughter of a master musician. Kouta literally means "short song," and is meant to be evocative and intimate, romantic and sometime erotic, but always using double-entendres and metaphors, not obvious to the casual listener.
    Hakusen no (“A White Fan”)
  3. The singer is accompanied by a SHAMISEN, two drums (kotsuzumi and otsuzumi), and a flute (nokan). The voice and shamisen play HETEROPHONICALLY. These instruments are also used in KABUKI theater. The poetry is translated in the reading.
    Hakusen no (“A White Fan”)
  4. For shamisen and voice. This is an example of a FOLKSONG (called minyo) belonging to the farming class rather than a court or elite tradition. Folksongs are sung while working or for entertainment, and have distinct local styles. This one comes from the region of Akita in northwestern Japan. Notice the more energetic performance on the shamisen and powerful singing style of the voice compared to the other examples.
    Nikata-bushi (“Song of Nikata”
  5. Musical genre called ENKA (See Fujie, p. 178). First appearing in the 1880s, enka represented a blend of Japanese and Western musical elements. The lyrics expressed contemporary social and political attitudes, but after World War II, these popular music songs became expressions of nostalgia and sadness. They began to disappear in the 1970s with the younger generation, but karaoke technology brought them back into use. “Naite Nagasaki” or “Crying Nagasaki” is in an old-fashioned style, depicting the sad departure of a woman's lover. Note how the singer represents the emotion and act of crying when she repeats the lyrics "naite, naite, naite." This recording was made in 1988, performed by Kandu Fukumaru for Nippon Columbia NH-210.
    Naite Nagasaki—enka
Card Set
Japanese song set
world music
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