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Japan Music History

The world has witnessed the effect of migration on the lives of people. May it be political or social spheres the people have seen evolution due to migration.

Due to migration it was music that was subject to change in Japan. An attempt was made in Japan in the 3rd century to modify the primitive songs and make them more complex.

Evidences prove that it was the Chinese, Korean and Indian music which influenced music in Japan. It was indeed these foreign interferences which played a major role in the creation of the mysterious music of Japan.

The oldest forms of traditional Japanese music are traced back to the Nara and Heian periods. In the heian period a type of classical music called the gagaku was performed at the Imperial court.

Kangen, the instrumental music and bugaku, the dance accompanied by gagaku were the sub-divisions of gagaku music. In the 13th century music was a means for alms and enlighten for the priests of Zen Buddhism. For the purpose of enrichment, the samurais listened to music and took part in activities related to music.

Japan advanced to the field of musical theatre in the 14th century with Noh. In the Edo period, the puppet theatre called bunraku and the Kabuki theatre was introduced. A rule was made in Japan in 1652 that only male adults were given the permission to perform Kabuki hereafter.

The music of Japan is also rich in its variety of traditional musical instruments. The bamboo flute called the Shakuhanchi and the water zither called Suikinkutsu attracted attention worldwide.

The list of traditional instruments included instruments such as Biwa, Fue, Hichiriki, Fue, Kane, Kakko, Koto, Hocchiku, Shamsien, Okawa, Niko, Hyoshigi, Ryuteki, Sanshin, Shime-Daiko, Shinobue, taiko, Tsuzumi, and kokyu.

In the field of folk music a group of performers called the Biwa hoshi who played Biwa organised themselves for visually impaired men and obtained control over the musical culture of Japan.

Folk music of Japan which was called Min'yo comprised of work songs, religious songs, children's songs and songs for gatherings. Moso, the blind musicians toured in local areas with the aim of purifying households. In the medieval era, blind women known as Goze also toured in Japan.

In Japan, folk songs such as Ondo accompanied the dances of the Obon festival. It is believed that the souls of ancestors return from the dead during Obon. Hence the Japanese return to their hometowns to visit their ancestral graves. The version of Obon in Okinawa is known as Eisa festival.

Japanese music changed drastically after the arrival of western music. Jazz, Rock, Heavy metal, Electropop, disco music, hip-hop, Latin, reggae, theme music, game music, western inspired folk music, club music entered the soil of Japan to unite with the tradition of Japan to create a whole new history.

Article about: History of Japanese music

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