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Japanese Traditional Music: Noh, Biwa, Shakuhachi

WA 2010CD WA 2010CD

2014 repress. Subtitled: Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai, 1941. This second volume of the 1941 Kokusai Bunka Shinkô-kai (KBS) recordings features Noh theater masters, many of whom had been trained by artists active before the Meiji (1868) period. An essay and texts in both English and Japanese with translation are included in the CD. Noh, a masked play, was established by the actor Kan'ami Kiyotsugu (1333-1384) and his son Zeami Motokiyo (1363-1443) in medieval times. Based on various earlier forms such as sangaku (acrobat and juggling), dengaku (dance and play derived from rice festivals), and kusemai (dance), the noh created a far more highly artistic form of theater than ever before. Japanese biwa music is characterized by a narrative with biwa accompaniment. The instrument, born in ancient Persia and introduced into Japan around the 8th century as a component of the royal court's gagaku ensemble, is a four stringed lute plucked with a large plectrum. In the late 12th century, blind Buddhist priests developed a unique narrative style, using this instrument as an accompaniment. The shakuhachi is a vertical bamboo flute sharply edged in its flue. Its standard length is about 54 cm., but there are shorter or longer types than this standard. Shakuhachi was traditionally played by komusô, Fuke-shû priests (a Zen Buddhist sect). The blowing of a shakuhachi (sui-Zen, literally "blowing Zen") was a komusô's religious act equivalent to chanting a sutra.