Eastern music is something quite different from what the west has to offer. With the constant exposure to each other’s cultures, however, the juxtaposition of musical elements is inevitable. Still, it is inevitable that indigenous music remain the same. This holds true to a genre in Japan called enka.
The truth is that enka is used to refer to two kinds of music. The first one hails from way back in the Meiji and Taisho period when speeches were made into music. The idea was to avoid the disapproval of the government towards political speeches by masking the words in music. The second genre refers to music that emerged after the war, during the Showa period. This type of enka is quite popular and has been compared to American country music (not because of the musical style but because of the theme and audience).
Though you might find varying descriptions and definition of enka, I like the one presented in Okada:
Enka is usually singing sad aspects of life, irrecoverable destiny, desertion by the lover. It is an expression of love, but love will never be successful and sorrow and tear follow happy memories. It can also be a song of a woman who is resentful to her destiny as her lover is gone to another woman. Anyhow Enka is song of resignation. Resignation must be sweet so that it is endurable.
Indeed, with that definition, it makes you think of country songs. Want to hear some enka? Visit Barbara’s Enka Site. I learned a lot from it.
Posted August 26th, 2011 by Maki+ | Comment (1)
The Japanese culture is rife with musical influences. Indeed, one of the richest aspects of their culture is their music. Though not everyone may be familiar with the terms and technical aspects of Japanese music, I am sure that many are at least familiar with the looks and sounds of their instruments.
One of the most important of the Japanese traditional musical instruments is the koto. The koto is a traditional string instrument which actually has its roots in the Chinese zither. In fact, the koto is considered to be the national instrument of Japan.
What are the origins of the koto? According to one legend, this instrument was formed in the shape of a dragon, which we know is a mythical creature held in reverence in the east. On the more practical side, though, the koto was introduced to Japan by traveling Chinese and Korean musicians in the 7th century. In the beginning, the koto was only used for royal audiences but by the 15th century, it was widely used to entertain the common people as well.
The koto has 13 strings, all of which are stretched along the length of the soundboard, which is about 2 meters long. The soundboard is made of wood while the strings are made of synthetic material (these days, at least). In the old days, the strings were made of silk. The strings are tuned by bridges which can be moved, made of ivory or plastic.
Today, the koto is still used to play music and many music schools in fact offer classes on how to play the koto.
Photo courtesy of Marshall Astor
Posted April 20th, 2011 by Maki+ | Comment (0)
Are you tired of having to crank up the volume of your stereo or computer just so you can hear your music from wherever you are in the house? Then the Miuro is the gadget for you. Miuro is fondly called the music robot and it promises to add a new dimension to your listening pleasure.
Shaped like an egg, it is 14 inches long and comes in white, black, yellow, and red. Miuro is made by ZMP Inc. in cooperation with Kenwood â€“ giving you the assurance of high quality sound.
So what makes Miuro better than other music players? Aside from the fact that it can roll around and groove on its own, it can stream music wirelessly from the PC. It can also be connected to your iPod. What I really like about this gadget is that it is equipped with a camera, a sensor, and a remote. These things allow the user to â€œbeckonâ€ to the Miuro wherever he is (within range of course) and it will come to him â€“ cleverly avoiding obstacles in its way.
It doesnâ€™t stop at that though – once it locates the user, the Miuro positions itself so that it will be at the optimal distance for the best sound quality. THEN, it moves around to the beat of the music! Now, all that is hard to beat!
So how much does this thing cost? Prepare about $1000 (maybe a little under it).
Posted May 1st, 2008 by Maki+ | Comments (3)
Music is an inherent part of most any culture in existence and the Japanese culture is not exempt from this. One of the significant aspects of Japanese music is their unique art of drumming, called wadaiko or traditional Japanese drumming in English. Wadaiko makes use of traditional drums called taiko. In some cases, wadaiko is also used to refer to the drums themselves.
Though largely considered Japanese today, the origins of wadaiko can actually be traced back to China. These large drums were carried over about 1000 years ago. The original drums from China were made of wooden slats. The innovative Japanese noticed the inferior sound resulting from the wooden slats so they worked on a new way to produce the wooden frame. Instead of using wooden slats which were joined together, the new waidako was made from a single piece of wood.
Japanese drumming was used early on in relation to martial arts activities. Today, however, wadaiko ensembles are well known in many parts of the world for leisure purposes. Daihachi Oguchi is considered to be the father of modern taiko and the popularity of taiko performances has been attributed to him. Since then, there have been many individuals and groups who have emerged to introduce taiko performances to the rest of the world.
Today, taiko performances have evolved to include flashy choreography. The music itself has also evolved to incorporate modern music elements such as pop. If you want to find out more about wadaiko by experiencing a performance live, try to check out your local Japanese embassy or cultural office. The chances are that there will be at least one event showcasing wadaiko.
Posted April 18th, 2008 by Maki+ | Comment (1)
The La Folle JournÃ©e au Japon “Days of Enthusiasm” Music Festival is back and has transformed Tokyo into a musical isle. Hailed as the most exciting classical music festival in the world, it features day long concerts held simultaneously in 7 to 9 halls of the Tokyo International Forum. Around 300 of the most distinguished classical musicians all over the world gather to give performances that last about 45 minutes each.
The festival’s artistic director, RenÃ© Martin, say that his aim “is the true democratization of classical music â€“ presented once a year and at sensible prices.” The festival is a true celebration of classical music open to all who wish to come. Because of this the musical program is very varied and ticket prices are very cheap. Tickets are available for Â¥1,500 to Â¥3,000.
La Folle JournÃ©e runs from April 29 to May 6.
Posted April 30th, 2007 by geisha+ | Comments Off
All cultures have their own brand of music and sound, no matter where you go. In Japan, as in other countries, music has evolved to incorporate the trends in daily living. J-pop, the term used to refer to the popular music among the youth, has exploded beyond the geographical borders of the country. This genre has in fact become quite popular in other Asian countries.
The interesting thing about J-pop is that it has its roots firmly established in traditional Japanese music. This includes folk music. Incorporate elements of Western music (UK and the US) into the traditional sound and you get J-pop â€“ an interesting and provoking juxtaposition.
Critics of this type of music claim that J-pop sounds too much like particular songs. Proponents of J-pop on the other hand defend the genre by saying that musical influences are naturally part of the new creation. On the surface, you might think that you have heard a J-pop song before. Try listening a little more closely, however, and you will find that though there are similar elements, the song is a totally unique piece of work on its own.
[tags]Japan, popular culture, youth, music, J-pop[/tags]
Posted March 16th, 2007 by geisha+ | Comments Off