ASIA212Varley

Tokubei and ohatsu of the love suicides at sonezaki

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Unformatted text preview: e traditionally derived art of the bunraku chanters. Storytelling as performed by itinerant chanters, who were often Buddhist priests, had been popular throughout the medieval age. Among the important literary sources from which the chanters drew their material were the great war chronicles, including The Tale of the Heike and Taiheiki. For accompaniment, the chanters generally used a lute-like fourstringed instrument called the biwa. But by the late sixteenth century, another instrument, the three-stringed samisen, which had its origins in China and was introduced to Japan via the Ryukyu Islands, was coming into vogue among chanters. Roughly akin to the banjo, the samisen gives off a rather brittle, twanging sound (in contrast to the languid tone of the biwa) and is particularly well suited for the accompaniment of the vocal techniques of chanters. During the Tokugawa period, the samisen became the principal musical instrument in both the kabuki and bunraku theatres. It was thus the adaptation of the samisen to the ancient art of chanting and the employment of puppets to depict the narrative action declaimed by chanters that gave rise to bunraku. The two men most responsible for effecting the final evolution of bunraku to a serious dramatic form in Genroku times were the chanter Takemoto Gidayû (1651–1714) and the playwright Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653–1724). In 1684 Gidayû, whose distinctive chanting style became the most widely admired of its day, opened a puppet theatre called the Takemoto-za in Osaka and engaged the services of Chikamatsu, a writer of samurai origins from Kyoto who had already achieved some note as the author of plays for the renowned kabuki actor Sakata Tòjûrò. Although Chikamatsu wrote for both the kabuki and bunraku theatres, his work for the latter won for him the great stature he enjoys in the history of Japanese literature. His bunraku plays are of two general types, historical plays ( jidaimono) and domestic or contemporary plays (sewamono). The historical plays are derived from the same kinds of narrative materials that Japanese chanters had used for cent...
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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 UBC.

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