The musical world of Tokugawa Japan

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The Tokugawa era generated a new episteme that in musical terms might be called incipient modernity. It started with the advent of the three-stringed lute shamisen in the sixteenth century, when Japanese ports were visited by Iberian traders and European missionaries. Two centuries of social stability and a maturing civil society fostered the development of a musical culture that is inconceivable without the shamisen and would have been impossible without the agency of professionally organized blind musicians. Although oral transmission remained central, various forms of musical notations started to foster musical literacy. Furthermore, a burgeoning print culture started to have an impact on the performing arts through publication, for popular consumption, of song texts and puppet play narratives, and even teach-yourself manuals for some instruments. Nagauta actively created music to be performed separately from kabuki in private zashiki settings. Musically much the same as dance music, the lyrical non-dramatic nature of their texts is close to jiuta.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Tokugawa World
EditorsGary P. Leupp, De-min Tao
Place of PublicationAbingdon UK
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781000427332, 9781003198888
ISBN (Print)9781138936850, 9781032057231
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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