Japanese music theory

I am going to apply very simple music theory behind some well-known examples of J-Pop and talk briefly about the influences from traditional harmonies. Scales like the Iwato, Yo and In are all versions of the pentatonic. I will be using terminology often used to determine scale degrees. For example, a lot of the times in Western pop and classical music, the tonic C chord within the key of C is a big deal and the progression of the dominant G chord to a tonic C chord is popularly used to end a musical phrase.

So with that in mind, I want to touch on one specific chord progression and the pentatonic scales often heard in popular music. For the key of C, the notes F and B will be omitted. The chord progression I will be talking about is very popular in Japanese music and it starts on the subdominant 4th chord which would be F in the key of C followed by the dominant 5th chord of G.

Between these two, it can be followed by usually the minor equivalent subtonic 6th chord of Am or the mediant 3rd chord of Em or the tonic chord of C. Most of the chord progressions before repeating itself has four chords and so the pattern I hear at least is always the subdominant 4th chord followed by the dominant 5th chord.

After that I hear a lot of variety of different things.

japanese music theory

Here are some examples using the lettered chords in the key of C followed by number representing scale degree:. We see that the Bb is not in the pentatonic scale and it is only heard once during the chorus while never hearing E which is in the F major scale. This song goes through a lot of key changes but still, the chorus has the same sort of progression. The melody as well is also very inline with the pentatonic scale with a few exception notes.

Japanese Scales in Music Theory

Other examples:. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account.

Chinese musicology

Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Standard Posted by twelvearchives. Posted on September 20, Posted under Uncategorized.

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Comments Leave a comment. Like this: Like Loading Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:. Email required Address never made public. Name required. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: Cookie Policy.When William Malm published his wide-ranging study of traditional Japanese music init was the first time in the twentieth century that such a work had been brought out in a Western language.

Malm's book has still not been replaced as the single most interesting and authoritative text on the subject. But until now it was never revised or updated, nor were its illustrations ever changed. With the present publication, however, an extensively improved edition that includes a CD of sample music has been made available. Professor Malm's aim has always been to attract the layman reader as well as the musicologist, which has given this book its strength and durability.

The writing is clear, lively, and informed, the scope of his study being broadened by frequent comparisons with other traditions, East and West. Accompanying it all is a generous number of drawings and photographs of the players and their various instruments. The book opens with a brisk and eloquent history of Japan's musical life, then moves on to its religious music, Shinto, Buddhist, and Christian; its court music; the music of the noh drama; and the music of specific instruments: biwa, shakuhachi, koto, and shamisen.

After examining the components of kabuki music, it closes with a chapter on folk music, popular musical arts, and the music of other ethnic groups in Japan. For the more technically inclined, there is a detailed appendix on notation systems. Lastly, to put all this in a practical context, a CD is provided, giving nineteen examples of these different genres. Whether your interest is in a particular form of Japanese music--the marvelous sonority of the bamboo flute, the sharp but wistful sound of the shamisen--or just in music in general, Malm's book will more than satisfy your curiosity.

Publisher: Kodansha International BK The Present and Past of Japanese Music 1. Japan's Musical Life 2. Music and Japanese History. Religious Music 1.

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Christian Music 4. Gagaku, the Court Music of Japan 1. The History of Court Music 2. Nogakuthe Music of Noh Drama 1. Introduction 2. The History of Noh Drama 3. The Structure of a Noh Play 4.By studying a combination of sources— Buddhist music-theory tomes, part books, and present-day performance practice—one can understand many of the basic principles upon which ancient Japanese music was founded. From what has already been said about the beginnings of Japanese court and religious music, it is not surprising to find that the complete tone system of both types consists of the 12 tones of the Chinese system.

Only the Chinese name is given in the illustration below. Of the four Japanese scales ryoritsuyoand inthe first two show that ancient Japanese music followed the East Asian tradition in the use of two seven-tone scales, each with a pentatonic core. The ryo scale shows no great difference from the Chinese seven-tone scale.

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The ritsu scale, however, seems to reveal the early presence of an indigenous Japanese tonal ideal with the placement of its half steps. The two names for the pitch E are present in order to make a distinction between the two scales possible on that same tone. In gagaku instrumental music, the six tonalities are observed, part books for each instrument being organized in sections by the tonalities of the compositions.

A few pieces, such as Etenrakuare found in more than one tonality. That is one of the few clear examples in performance practice of the mode systems spoken of in music theory. In the poetry-oriented court life of Japansecular vocal music would obviously be important. Many of the poems in classical collections seemed originally to have been song texts.

One of the oldest secular song forms is saibarawhich was first inspired by the singing of packtrain drivers. Little of those vocal traditions remains, but memories of their importance are preserved in nearly every novel and diary of the period.

For larger surviving repertoires it is necessary to turn to religious music. The suzu bell tree, mentioned before as among the earliest-known Japanese instruments, is found in all such events; and the equally ancient wagon zither can be heard in the palace rituals and sometimes in the larger shrines. The music for mi-kagura ceremonies is divided into two types: one to praise the spirits or seek their aid torimonothe other to entertain the gods saibari in the tradition, mentioned earlier, of the mythological amusements given before the sun goddess.

The work is said to be an imitation of the dance of a heavenly maiden who performed on the beach of Suruga in the 6th century. Azuma asobialong with bugaku dances, may be seen at many other imperial, national, and shrine occasions—dim but nevertheless impressive reflections of the colourful courtly life of the Japan of centuries ago.

Historical documents show that the Heian court, like courts in ancient China or, for that matter, all over the world, appreciated the value of female dancers and their music. There are many forms of Buddhist hymns, such as saimonas well as semireligious dance songs, such as goeikanembutsu odoriand the bon odori performed at folk festivals. Such a tradition came originally from foreign Buddhist missionaries and next from Japanese converts studying in China.

The theoretical bases of those studies are similar to the ones already discussed under the topic of gagaku. Here need be added only comments about Buddhist notation systems.

Most early chant notations used neumessquigglelike signs that, like those of the early Christian traditions, served primarily as memory aids with which an initiate could recall the details of a given melody.

The most influential system was the so-called go-in hakaseattributed to Kakui b. Under that method the five notes of each of three octaves of a pentatonic scale were indicated by the angle of a short line, rather like the hands on a clock.

Japanese musical scales

Variations of that method were of great influence in the notation of all vocal music of the period and continue to be used in Buddhist chant today. Japanese music. Article Media. Info Print Print. Table Of Contents. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback.Rests on floor, the right end being raised by 2 small legs. Player sits on his heels, plucking the strs. Used in ritualistic mus. April 3, Retrieved April 03, from Encyclopedia.

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[Chon et. al] - Common Japanese Chord Progressions Part 2

Kotcheff, Ted William T. Kotani, Mikako —. Kotonski, Wtodzimierz. Kotoshikhin, Grigory Karpovich.Chinese musicology is the academic study of traditional Chinese music. This discipline has a very long history. The first musical scales were derived from the harmonic series. The Guqin has a scale of 13 positions all representing a natural harmonic position related to the open string. By starting from a different point of this sequence, a scale named after its starting note with a different interval sequence is created, similar to the construction of modes in modern Western music.

The effect of changing the starting point of a song can be rather like the effect of shifting from a major to a minor key in Western music.

The scalar tunings of Pythagorasbased on ratios,etc. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Academic study of traditional Chinese music.

Categories : Chinese music Philosophy of music Musicology Musical scales. Hidden categories: Articles with short description.

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There are several other pentatonic scales, and many of these originated in the traditional music of Asian countries such as Japan, China and Indonesia.

Exotic non-western scales can be a rich source of inspiration for composing and improvisation. They provide a mystical and distinctive sound, which can often work well with music otherwise based on western harmonic structures.

Japanese scales are a good example. While the intervals in these scales are unusual compared to the Major scale, they are also very accessible to the western ear. The first is the In Sen scale. This may already sound strangely familiar to you, because it is often used as the tuning for wind chimes.

japanese music theory

Japanese scales have great significance within Japanese traditional culture. The five notes of the pentatonic scales are given male and female characteristics, and represent the five basic elements of earth, water, fire, wood and metal.

Unlike western music theory, the root note of Japanese scales is considered to be not the first, but the central third note, which better suits their concept of balance.

For the sake of comparison though, we are showing these scales as if they start from the first note. The Hirajoshi scale differs from the In Sen scale by only one note, as the b7 degree becomes a b6 degree instead. This scale is the basis for many Japanese traditional tunes, including the folk tune Sakura, meaning 'cherry blossom'. Bring these music concepts to life with the free Songtrix Bronze Edition as you create songs from chords and scales.

Then publish and share your ideas with the other musicians you meet on the ChordWizard Network. Have questions? Join the ChordWizard Network and post them in the Music Theory forum for answers and discussions on your topics of interest. More Info Download. Take the Video Tour. Sorry, this page cannot be printed. However, you can print from ChordWizard Music Theory 3.

It can be installed on your computer for easy reference, and includes all the sounds, text searching, bookmarking, and many printing options. Create Music with Songtrix.

japanese music theory

Major Scale Revisited. Natural Minor Scale. Major and Minor Keys. Harmonic Minor Scale. Melodic Minor Scale.Traditional music is part and parcel of any culture. Traditions and culture differ from one country to another, and so of course does the music. Japanese traditional music is popular not only in Japan, but also in the West.

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In recent years, many pieces of traditional Japanese musical compositions were showcased throughout the world. Traditional music plays an important role in Japanese Culture, even today. There is not much information available today about ancient traditional Japanese music from pre-historical times. However, there is evidence to suggest that music was given a certain importance during the Yayoi and Jomon period. During the late Yayoi period, many tombs were built for both poets and musicians alike.

By that time, songs and poetry had already begun to be integrated into traditional Japanese music. Although Japan has a unique culture and tradition of its own, many of its ceremonies and musical styles were borrowed from other countries. The Imperial State of Japan used not only the Chinese language, but also imported some facets of its culture, including some of their traditional music. A traditional form of music called Gagaku dominated the courts of the nobles and kings during the Nara and Heian period.

A point worth mentioning here is that vocal music plays a huge role in Japanese music. A few of the popular traditional and ancient forms of Japanese music are listed below. Gagaku was popularly known as the music of the courts. It was mostly developed at the court of the upper class people and powerful nobles. This form of music gained significant popularity during the Heian period AD. Gagaku is classified into three categories: 1. Gagaku has its origins in China, Korea, and other southeast Asian countries.

Gagaku that originated from China is known as To-gaku, and the one that has its roots in Korea is known as Komagaku. Both these forms of traditional music use the orchestra and do not have any vocals in it.

Gagaku, when accompanied with a dance called Bugaku, is known as Kangen. Some of the popular instruments that were used in this form of music are mouth organ, flute, drum, and zither.

One of the pure traditional Japanese musical forms is the Kokufukabu. This is an ancient music that includes both vocals and instruments. This music is usually performed in the temples and also for the court ceremonies. This ancient music has its roots in Japan, but was composed under the influence of the tradition and culture of neighbouring countries that include Saibabra and Roei.

Another traditional Japanese music that gained significance during the Hein period was Shomyo. This is a vocal music that was used in Buddhist temples at the time of prayer services.

This traditional Japanese musical form became popular during the 14th century.


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