Christopher Y. Blasdel

For Christopher Y. Blasdel's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Music | HOGAKU TODAY Oct 20, 2002

Orchestrating exchanges for peace

"The Japanese society of the eighth century was extremely internationalized and integrated with the rest of Asia. Foreigners comprised much of the skilled labor force and, like England in the 16th and 17th centuries, there was an active exchange of artists, musicians and statesmen ...

Music | HOGAKU TODAY Sep 15, 2002

Pro Music Nipponia gives new life to contemporary hogaku

For the past 40 years, Pro Musica Nipponia has taken an active role in the contemporary hogaku music scene by commissioning and performing new works for traditional instruments. The highly professional and talented ensemble has premiered dozens of works by both Japanese and foreign ...

Music | HOGAKU TODAY Aug 18, 2002

Do you have an attitude problem?

This April, a Ministry of Science and Education directive took effect requiring that Japanese musical instruments be taught in all public junior high schools. This is revolutionary in Japan, as the education system has basically ignored Japanese music for more than a hundred years. ...

Music | HOGAKU TODAY Jul 21, 2002

They're out there, they're really out there

When I was a student in the United States during the 1970s, a classmate of mine went to a record shop in a large city and asked if they had any Japanese music. The shopkeeper excitedly pulled out a brand-new album titled "Koto and ...

Music | HOGAKU TODAY Jun 16, 2002

We're talking the real thing

I recently received an e-mail from a foreign journalist in Japan asking me to comment on "the ongoing boom in Japan of traditional music." The request both puzzled me and made me think. Traditional Japanese music, hogaku, is not exactly booming. Attendance at traditional ...

When musical blood is backed by the heart

Music | HOGAKU TODAY May 19, 2002

When musical blood is backed by the heart

There are generally two types of professional hogaku musicians: those who are born into a musical family and learn from an early age and those who encounter the music later in life and apply themselves to its study. The first type has a distinct ...

The rewards of spring

Music | HOGAKU TODAY Apr 21, 2002

The rewards of spring

Next month offers a wide selection of concerts, ranging from contemporary hogaku, Okinawan folk and protest songs to the finest of the classics. All are performed by veteran musicians. The following is a sample of what's on. The late Tadao Sawai was an extremely talented ...

A music man with a mission

Music | HOGAKU TODAY Mar 17, 2002

A music man with a mission

Imagine, after years of immersion and study in Western music, discovering the rarefied beauty of Japanese music. Simple aspects of music, previously taken for granted, suddenly take on significant roles. Silence extends between notes and enlivens the idea of pause. An errant breath blows ...

Music | HOGAKU TODAY Dec 16, 2001

A voice echoing years of history

Imagine yourself in Edo (old Tokyo) during the mid-18th century. The streets bustle with activity -- almost all of which is accompanied by song: carpenters sing while working wood; mothers lull their babies to slumber; farmers till their paddies to rice-planting songs; and the ...

Music | HOGAKU TODAY Nov 18, 2001

The rich legacy of the biwa

The pear-shaped biwa lute has enchanted listeners in Japan for centuries. Played with a large wooden plectrum, the instrument has four or five strings of twisted silk stretched over four or more deep frets positioned on the neck. Along with the rich, percussive sounds ...