Mita Noriaki Gagaku Academy
<table2> *String instruments are not in use today
<table3> *String instruments have not been in use since Meiji(明治, 1868~）
*Right Dance originating from Togaku was in the formation of Togaku.
The Status of Japanese Gagaku:
The diversity of Gagaku as a Composite Art of Asia
In general, "Gagaku" refers to <the legitimate ritual music> in contrast to folk music, and it is widely used in a cultural area of Chinese characters such as Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam, etc. Though there's difference in different times, Gagaku of each country has been influenced by China and has developed independently.
Recorded first in Japanese literature such as "Kojiki"(古事記) and "NihonShoki"(日本書紀), which are the oldest book of MythsㆍHistory compiled in 8C, Gagaku originated from Kagura(神楽) of the Goddess of Entertainment of Amanoiwato(天の岩戸) ㆍ Amenouzme(アメノウズメ). Also, the Emperor said to have played Koto(琴) in order to receive an oracle, according to the record of the sudden death of the 14th Emperor Chuai(仲哀), in the same book. This Koto is similar to the one that appears in 「a clay image in playing Koto｣(下)1), which is seemingly the original form of Wagon(和琴, Japan’s endemic 6 stringed instrument). It corresponds with the record in book of Sui(隋書)（636）, that says｢There are 5 stringed Koto and flute(笛) ｣.
The music and dance that were used in various formalities of the time can be
examined by the records mentioned above. Meanwhile, Japan, in the international
exchange of ancient cultures by Korea and China, had been heavily influenced
by the music and dance cultures of many Asian countries.
Also, Japanese indegious music and dance was fused with those of Asian countries
and developed into Japanese Gagaku.
A. Categories of Japanese Gagaku
Japanese Gagaku can be divided into three categories, according to its background of formation.
Ⅰ. Music and Dance of Shinto(神道) and Royal Court Ritual(儀礼) since Ancient times ie. Kagurauta(神楽歌), Ninjomani(人長舞), Azmaasobi(東遊), Yamatouta(大和歌)･Yamatomai(大和舞), Kumeuta(久米歌)･Kumemai(久米舞), Outa(大歌)･Gosechinomai(五節の舞)), Ruika(誄歌), etc.
These are called ｢Music and Dance of Kuniburi(国風歌舞)｣, formed in the rituals of Shinto which is the indigenous religion of Japan, and danced to the music and songs above.
Ⅱ. Various Music and Dance of Asian Countries Introduced by Korea and China from 5C~9C (and the newly formed music and dance by Japan, based on those music and dance)
Ⅲ. Newly Composed Songs in the Heian Period(平安期, 794~1191) Roei(朗詠)- Composed by adding a melody to Chinese poems and sung to the accompanying music. Saibara(催馬楽)-Composed by adding a melody to Japanese lyrics and sung to the accompanying music.
What Japanese consider the most Gagaku-like is the foreign music and dance in category Ⅱ.Many Japanese just think that they are ｢the original Japanese music and dance｣. For many of these works are not only completely absorbed in the Japanese cultural climate and used in the rituals of Sinto, which is considered the most Japan-like, but also passed on to each district and developed into folk songs.
B. Acceptance and Transmission of Foreign Music and Dance
As a court music for rituals, Japan had accepted, Enkyogaku(宴饗楽; court banquet music), that is not ｢Gagaku｣ but ｢Zokugaku(folk music)｣. The people who were leading to introduce Enkyogaku were Indian, Vietnamese monks and musicians from other countries as well as the musicians who went to China to study abroad.
In early Tang Dynasty, when the music and dances of Asian countries were introduced to Japan, there existed professional musicians in the capital who played and danced regional music and dance of each country of Asia.
For example, there was ｢Gagaku-ryo/Utamai-no-tsukasa(雅楽寮)｣ under Jibusyo(治部省) established by Taiho-ryo(大宝令, 701), and the regulations of Yourou-ryo(養老令, 757) was as the following:
【Prescribed Number of Gagaku-ryo】
4 Utano-shi(master singer; 歌師), 30 Kajin(singer; 歌人), 100 Utame(female singer; 歌女)
4 Maino-shi(master dancer; 舞師), 100 Maisho(student dancer; 舞生)
2 Hueno-shi(master piri player; 笛師), 6 Huesho(student piri player; 笛生), 8 Hueko(piri player; 笛工)
12 Tougakushi(master musician of Tang music; 唐楽師), 60 Gakusho(student musician; 楽生)
4 Komagakushi(master musician of Goryeo music; 高麗楽師) , 20 Gakusho
4 Kudaragakushi(master musician of Baekje music; 百済楽師), 20 Gakusho
4 Shiragigakushi(master musician of Silla music; 新羅楽師), 20 Gakusho
1 Kuregaku-no-shi(master musician of Wu; 伎楽師), 2 Kretsuzumi-no-shi(master player of kuretsuzumi; 腰鼓師)
What is remarkable here is the fact that the music and dance of Korea was only taken charge of by Koreans in Japan, while Togaku was managed by either Japanese or the foreigners.2) Isn’t this due to the fact that there resided many Koreans moved from Korea who could manage Komagaku, Kudaragaku and Shiragigaku, compared to Chinese? In other words,we can presume that the music and dance of Korea could be managed by the native musicians who came to Japan without Japanese participation since there were enough in number. However, the number of the musicians gradually decreased later.
C. Reformation of Music System and Bipartition of Left and Right
By the Heian period, people in charge of Gagaku transferred from ｢Gagaku-ryo/Utamainotsukasa｣ to Kanjin(官人) or Denjo-bito(殿上人)3). Especially in the mid Heian period, there was a large-scale reformation of music system and foreign music and dances were divided into two divisions, First, those introduced via China,(southern rute) from China, Vietnam, India, the Plateau of Iran. In Japan, they were called Togaku(Tang music; 唐楽). Second, Northern rute,such as Kokurigaku(高句麗楽), Kudaragaku(百済楽), Shiragigaku(新羅楽) and Doragaku(度羅楽). These were called Komagaku(高麗楽) in all.
In addition, the music and dance were categorized into Left Dance(Left Music) · Right Dance(Right Music), based on the rule of ｢Bipartition of Left and Right｣, which has been transmitted to this day. The details are as the folowing.
* some pieces such as ｢Bato(抜頭)｣｢Genjoraku(還城楽)｣ belonged to both categories, while others, first belonged to
Togaku but later were categorized into Right Dance of Komagaku today.
* There were also some pieces that was newly created by applying the forms of Left Danceㆍ Right Dance to the music and dance
from other countries in Asia.
In principle, though there’s an exception, Left Dance was executed in red-colored costume(figure 1ㆍ3ㆍ4), while Right Dance was executed in blue-colored costume(figure 5ㆍ6).
In addition, Gagaku players must learn all-inclusive skills of Ggaku including 1) playing musical instruments, 2) performing dances, 3) singing.
When it comes to playing musical instruments, the player must learn to play one of the three wind instruments [Sho(笙)・Hichiriki(篳篥)・ Yokobue(横笛)（＝Ryuteki(龍笛)／Komabue(高麗笛)／Kagurabue(神楽笛）〕, and all 4percussion instruments（Kakko(鞨鼓)・Sannotszumi(三ノ鼓)・Taiko(太鼓)・Shoko(鉦鼓)）, and one of the 2 stringinstruments （Biwa・So(筝)）, while Wagon is essential for everyone.With the reformation of music system, the instruments that were used for foreign musicand dance were divided as the following.
D. Characteristics of Left DanceㆍRight Dance
At present, Gagaku players are essentially to perform one of Left DanceㆍRight Dance. We can learn by the the history of its transmission that the reason why the players were made to select one of the two, in training and transmitting, was because the Guards of each side were in charge of each side.
This kind of categorization, in my opinion, was very effective way to preserve these dances in their riginal forms without damaging any characteristics of their own.
In other words, I believe that this method of transmission performs a significant function in that it prevents confusion of the characteristic movements of Left Music/DanceㆍRight Music/Dance since the basic movements of Left Dance Togaku was different from those of Komagaku.
Also, as revealed in table 4, it seems that the characteristics of Left DanceㆍRight Dance correspond with those of the traditional dance of KoreaㆍJapan, in the relation to its accompanying music and the teaching method as well as the movements of dance. The teachers in China teach students by singing the melodies to train the traditional dance. In Korea, on the contrary, the traditional dance teachers train the students to dance to the rhythm by counting the rhythm orally, on the basis of the rhythms of a percussion
instrument. So doesn't this suggest that Korean traditional dance is more focused on the rhythm than the melody?
By comparing the traditional dance of both Korea and China to Muak of Japan, we can tell more clearly of what is primirily Korean-like from what is Chinese-like. In this sense, Japanese Gagaku can contribute to comparative studies on dances of both countries.