Japanese instruments connecting the world

  • 207
  • 0
  • 0
  • English 
Jul 13, 2016 23:08
Do you like Japanese instruments? I love them.I have played the Wadaiko since I was a high school students. I can feel healing warmth and gratefulness from the delicate sound of the Shinobue, and I can be excited by listening to Wadaiko music. But I feel like there are few people around me who are interested in Japanese instruments.We Japanese rapidly assimilated Western music and culture, and as a result, Japanese modern music is filled with music based on Western culture. If I were to ask you, "Have you listened to traditional Japanese music recently?" probably you would say ,"No" or "Maybe,,,I haven't listened to it since New Year's or summer festival." I think music is a means to express our hearts and minds. If that is the case, and Japanese modern muic is changing into Westan musical culture, do you think that perhaps Japanese people will stops being Japanese!? Today,I want to explain the Japanese mind by comparing Japanese music and Western music ,and I hope you will realize your Japanese pride again.

How has music been passed down until now? Have you ever thought about it? First,Let's think about music from a Western point of view. Western culture has had written music since ancient times. The advantage of written music is that, if you can understand the music,anyone can play same melodic patterns.Also, the fact that Western music is easy to put in writing is one reason that it spread. There is a difference in playing skill,but basically Western music culture is based on written music. In doing so, Western music culture has always kept a visual form. In contrast with Western culture,written music was not common in Japan. That is why it is difficult to transcribe Japanese music. Transcribing Japanese music to put it in an extreme way, is like transcribing the murmur of a rushing creek or the sound of the wind. People's sense of music is completely different depending on region and the season. Handing down the expression of each of those delicate sounds though feeling better fit on musical nature of finding sounds in nature. Music is not only sounds. We can't understand it without seeing, we can't understand it without listening, and we can't understand it without feeling it on our skin. Those delicate feeling have been handing down through generations by using all five senses to their fullest. Japanese music has been handed down by feeling through generations, As a result, we can get a glimpse into the scene of an old. Good performers in small performance gestures. I think that we can see what Japanese music is from how it is handed down: it is accepting natural sounds and expressing them as they are. We can see the open-minded nature of Japanese. We accept all of the these thing without being band by one single thing.

Next, I want to talk about instruments. In both the West and Japan, instrument the have same roots. Western music changed the style of their instruments to express a better range of music. When we think about how Western make instruments, we see that they are based first of all on scales. And, Western music adjusts natural sounds to fit those scales and makes sounds along them. Also, They look for suitable material for making the instruments. For example, the piano has 88 black and white keys. The keyboard is lined up without even an extremely small mistake. In western music culture, the piano is the instrument that best expresses the important of range in a way that is easy to understand. Western music culture expends ranges and fits them with the sounds it wants to express. Western instruments were developed to play these sounds easily. On the contrary, Japanese music tries as much as possible to reach natural sounds. Japanese instruments' scales are in nature. For example, the Wadaiko. The Wadaiko is also called thundering instrument. As its name indicates, the Wadaiko has a powerful big sound and the remaining wave is like thunder. Also, in Japanese myth, the thunder God used a Wadaiko. This is also thought to be a reason , the Wadaiko is called thundering instrument. Japanese culture enjoys natural sounds,"獅子脅し" and "水琴窟" are used as musical sounds just as they are in nature. In the case of flute, Western music culture expresses the same sounds by putting the hole's position at regular intervals. In Japan's case, the hole's positions change based on the bamboo used as material, Japanese flutes' possible sounds are very different based on their materials and how they are made. Japanese make instrument by getting the most they can out of the material ,We don't control instruments, We work together with them. In the making instruments, I can feel desire of Japanese to be in harmony with nature.

Lastly, how do people play and listen to music? I will talk about that. The main purpose of western music culture is playing indoors. For example, if we listen to orchestral music or wind-instrument music, we naturally imagine that they are playing the music in some hall. When Western instruments are played outdoors, natural sounds like wind, water and human breathing may feel like noise. For Western music, which needs harmony between instruments, natural sounds resemble music, but they are different. Maybe it's because when we listen to orchestral music, when a player makes even a little mistake, the sounds really stands out. Also, the audience feels nervous because they can't make single sound. Westerner place much importance on music appreciation. so they seek beautiful and transparent sounds. As a result, the player and the audience are in a building where the acoustic system is worked out and they will enjoy music in an artificial situation.
On the other hands, the purpose of Japanese music is to be played outdoors. So, when playing outside, even if we hear the sounds of insect and wind in just doesn't feel like noise. Maybe, we just feel like these sounds are art. For this reason, When autumn comes, we can enjoy the artistic feeling of the bell cricket's voice without instruments. Do you feel like Japanese enjoy some sounds themselves as music? ”黒鉄の 秋の風鈴 鳴りにけり”, like this, Landscapes in nature are all in the category of music. That must be how Japanese feel.

Finally, I realized that it's important to compare music culture between west and japan. Why do we Japanese imagine the phenomena of nature right after when we hear the sound of Japanese music instruments? The Answer is right here. As for Japanese, Japanese music instruments are the nature itself. For us, as we lived together with nature for long time, the sound of these music maybe the voice of nature.
We Japanese accept the sounds of a rushing river, insects' voices, and wind, and we may be able to imagine scene of Japanese people living together with nature.
Japanese music is , off course to express yourself, but at the same time you need to communicate with nature. Even now, we use Japanese instruments in Japanese traditional festivals. And, I think that we can imagine scene where people naturally take each other's hands. Japanese music is not just making beautiful sounds. I think it's for people to enjoy sounds together. People accept everything in nature, and we create "harmony" in our hearts. For Japanese people, Japanese instruments are full of important "Japanese mind". 和の心That is the Japanese pure mind. Please don't forget it. I hope you now want to get closer to Japanese music instruments. and I hope that this scene will never lose its smile.