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Unformatted text preview: music was used as an accompaniment both to plays of the nò theatre and to the recitations of itinerant storytellers, who strummed their lutelike biwa as they chanted excerpts from such works as The Tale of the Heike. Music, of course, also became an essential ingredient of the two major dramatic forms of the Tokugawa period, kabuki and bunraku. Like the earlier nò, kabuki and bunraku were presentational rather than representational theatres and hence readily incorporated not only music but also miming, stunt-performing, and, in the case of kabuki, dancing. Although some purely instrumental, nonvocalized music was naturally performed (perhaps most notably on the samisen and the zitherlike koto, an instrument of refined taste dating from very early times), much of the music of premodern Japan was quite clearly subordinated to lyrical singing, acting, and dancing, and to the recitation of libretti that possessed independent literary merit. Probably the first public performance of Western music in Japan in modern times was the playing by Perry’s naval band during its visit to Edo in 1853.28 And as in the case of the conversion to Western-style clothing, it was the Japanese military that led the way in the adoption of Western music. Military units of the early Meiji period initially formed bands simply as part of their general reorganization along Western lines. Fig. 66 “Morning Toilette” by Kuroda Seiki (Heibonsha) Encounter with the West 269 But before long, these army and navy bands began giving frequent public concerts, and they became familiar fixtures at the ballroom dances and other Western-style social affairs held at the Rokumeikan in the 1880s. In addition to military music, Christian church music was also prominently introduced to Japan in the early Meiji period. By far the most important form here was the Protestant hymn; and, as one authority has pointed out, many Japanese songs of the Meiji period tended to have a strongly “Christian” sound, just like the early nati...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.

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