Gagaku is classical Japanese court music. Gagaku was brought to Japan from China in the 8th century. The meaning of Gagaku is literally 'elegant music'. Most of the music that survives is classified as Togaku (music from the Tang Dynasty). They are performed as dance pieces and concert pieces. In modern Japan, Gagaku is performed at ceremonies like that of New Year or a wedding held at a Shinto shrine.
Gagaku instruments consists of wind instruments, string instruments and percussion instruments. There are three type of wind instruments. They are Sho, Hichiriki and Ryuteki. There are mainly two kinds of stringed instruments, Koto and Biwa. Also there are three kinds of percussion instruments, Dadaiko, Shoko and Kakko. The wind instruments usually carry the melody. The two huge drums called dadaiko are a colorful part of a Gagaku performance.
Gagaku music's most famous piece is called Etenraku (divine music). Gagaku music is intended to bring spiritual healing to the listeners. The dance is intended to bring a sense of elegance and harmony. Gagakku is still performed at the Emperor's court in Japan.
- Benito Ortolani, The Japanese Theatre: From Shamanistic Ritual to Contemporary Pluralism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995), p. 40
- Multicultural Perspectives in Music Education, Volume 3, eds. William M. Anderson; Patricia Shehan Campbell (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2010), p. 202
- The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Japanese Culture, ed. Sandra Buckley (London; New York: Routledge, 2002), p. 160
- Benito Ortolani, The Japanese Theatre: From Shamanistic Ritual to Contemporary Pluralism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995), p. 50
- Melanie Guile, Japan (Chicago, IL: Raintree, 2004), p. 8
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