Music | HOGAKU TODAY Oct 20, 2002

Orchestrating exchanges for peace

by Christopher Y. Blasdel

"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 Aug 18, 2002

Do you have an attitude problem?

by Christopher Y. Blasdel

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 Jun 16, 2002

We're talking the real thing

by Christopher Y. Blasdel

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 ...

The rewards of spring

Music | HOGAKU TODAY Apr 21, 2002

The rewards of spring

by Christopher Y. Blasdel

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

by Christopher Y. Blasdel

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

by Christopher Y. Blasdel

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

by Christopher Y. Blasdel

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 ...

Music | HOGAKU TODAY Sep 16, 2001

Good things come in simpler packages

by Christopher Y. Blasdel

A Ministry of Education and Science directive that takes effect next spring will require public schools to teach a Japanese instrument in junior-high-school music classes; up to now the focus has been entirely on Western music. An article from Kyodo News that appeared in The ...