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Christopher Y. Blasdel
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
Jan 20, 2001
Mixing and matching musical genres
Late January and early February offer three fascinating hogaku concerts, ranging from the traditional to the contemporary and a world premier of a collaboration of Asian musical styles and dance.
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
Jan 6, 2001
Japanese music gets support from New Year's tradition
New Year's in Japan is a period when Japanese suddenly seem to "rediscover" their traditional music. Radio and television stations, which, except for NHK, practically ignore traditional music for most of the year, get into the seasonal spirit and air programs of the classical performing and theatrical...
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
Dec 2, 2000
Reed and pipe and 30 strings
The traditional koto has 13 strings. Moveable ivory bridges, called ji, are placed under each string, and moving them up or down the length of the koto raises or lowers the pitch. There are about 15 set positions for the ji, known as choshi, and they determine the overall tuning of the instrument. All...
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
Nov 18, 2000
Autumn's rich hogaku harvest
If you've not yet had the opportunity to experience Japanese music and wish to do so, over the next six weeks some of the contemporary hogaku masters will offer a truly diverse variety of concerts, ranging from the classical to the modern.
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
Nov 4, 2000
Yamada-style koto master performs song-suite classics
The autumn performance season reaches its peak during the final months of the year, and an array of hogaku performances, including rare koto pieces, gagaku and dance, will be presented this November.
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
Oct 21, 2000
Koto reclaims place of honor in Japanese cultural parlor
Just as every cultured Western household during the early 20th century was expected to have a piano in the parlor, almost all Japanese upper-class households, until well past World War II, had a koto. Training on this lovely 13-stringed zither, originally imported into Japan from China as part of the...
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
Oct 7, 2000
Tales of romance and bloodshed come alive in Shinnai song
Some of the performing arts of Japan are so spectacular that they grab your attention and immediately make you feel a part of the music. Taiko drumming is one; rhythm speaks directly to our bodies, and the beating of a stick on a drum has a physical appeal to all, regardless of language or culture.
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
Sep 16, 2000
Japanese music millennium: new music for the Heisei Era
As the days grow shorter and evenings cooler, the hogaku season begins to pick up. September, October and November are the best months for experiencing the arts in Japan as the creative impulses, stifled by the summer's oppressive humidity, break forth in an array of interesting concerts, recitals and...
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
Sep 2, 2000
Historic Sogakudo still a home for music
At the edge of Ueno Park sits an elegant Victorian-style building. Designed by the pioneer Japanese architect Hanroku Yamaguchi, who studied at the Ecole Politechnique in Paris, the Sogakudo was constructed in 1890 as the first hall for the performance of Western music in Japan.
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
Aug 19, 2000
Autumn wind from Tsugaru fans Tokyo's waning summer
The last weeks of summer offer many hogaku concerts, both in Tokyo and around Japan, including two spectacular outdoor events.
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
Aug 5, 2000
New works win for old instruments
The yearly National Theater's Hogaku Composers' Competition, entering its fourth year, has firmly established itself as an important institution for the hogaku world. The original aim of this contest was to generate interest in and foster new works of hogaku, and in this it seems to be succeeding quite...
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
Jul 15, 2000
Heading into a new century with Shakuhachi 1979 quintet
In 1979, five students of the shakuhachi master Hozan Yamamoto got together and created a performance group. All had extensive training in the classics, but, as students of one of the most innovative shakuhachi players of the 20th century, all wanted to expand the shakuhachi repertoire and create new...
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
Jul 1, 2000
Sinking to sulphurous musical depths
One of the few consolations amid the relentless damp and humidity of the Japanese rainy season are the irises and hydrangeas whose colors seem to become ever more limpid in the mist.
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
Jun 17, 2000
A tribute to Japanese world music
In two previous columns (Feb. 5 and May 20) I wrote about recently established live-music houses, WAON in Nippori and Manabiya in Yokohama, where one can hear hogaku. The familiar settings of these spaces allow for an intimate connection with the music, which ranges from relatively unknown young musicians...
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
Jun 3, 2000
Drumming to a Japanese beat
The drum is easily Japan's most popular instrument.
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
May 20, 2000
New made old, old new at Manabiya
I waited for the performance to begin, sitting amid the audience of 30 people or so, packed into the ground-floor room of a new building in the sprawling, nondescript suburbs of Yokohama.
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
May 5, 2000
Classification, distinction and ecumenism
There is a tendency in Japan to adhere to strict classifications and distinctions. This is especially true in regards to music. Hogaku is one kind of music, Western classical is another. Pop and world music belong to yet other genres. Each genre is considered entirely separate, and performers, audiences...
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
Apr 15, 2000
Education -- in whose music?
Enter a Japanese junior high school music classroom and you might wonder what country you're in. Pasted high along the walls of the classrooms are faded pictures of European composers, all looking very austere (and all very dead). In the middle of the room there is usually a Yamaha piano or Electone,...
CULTURE / Music / HOGAKU TODAY
Apr 1, 2000
Music for both young and old
Tokyo boasts several quality professional and amateur Western-style orchestras, as my colleague Robert Ryker keeps reminding us. The elite music schools of the nation's capital turn out highly competent piano, string and woodwind players who are active around the world. American pop songs are heard and...
CULTURE / Music
Mar 18, 2000
Shakuhachi tips and tunes to welcome in the spring season
If you want to learn more about the shakuhachi and various performance techniques, observe a variety of instruments for sale and hear a selection of original pieces played by young performers, then I recommend the Senshu Kobo Sunday Clinic and Open Lesson.

Longform

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