The Gagaku, lit. Music (gaku) refined, elegant (ga), is a genre of court music with Japanese traditional instruments, song and dance that can be put in opposition to zokugaku folk music, "vulgar".

Originally, in the eighth century BC in China, the character (ya in Chinese) was used in two distinct compounds names poems of celebration (Da Ya) poems entertainment (xiao ya) and is therefore associated with two distinct functions: ritual and profane. Similarly, the Japanese Gagaku consists of four types relating to secular or ritual functions, instrumentation and musicality variables.

The Gagaku was introduced in Japan in the fifth century from China via Korea, but really settled in the eighth century with the founding of Gagaku-ryo, Office of Gagaku, dependent DEPARTMENT noble (Jibusho) in 701.

Reform and height of the Heian gagaku
Following the relocation of the capital from Nara to Kyoto in 794 and financial difficulties that it rattacherent a musical reform was applied to the early ninth century. It is based on five points:

* The number of instruments that includes all of gagaku is decreased. The shakuhachi, the great Hichiriki (bass oboe), the Kugo (Korean harp), the five-stringed biwa, the hitsu (25 stringed koto) and percussion hokyo are removed from training today.
* Reform of music theory with the establishment of two modal systems: Japanese ryo (ground mode) and Ritsu (D mode) and their transpositions. The instrumental and vocal technique is also fixed.
* The classification of documents according to their origin. Kangen The directory is divided into two categories: UHO and Saho, and that of Bugaku divided on the same principle umai and Samai.
* The reorganization of Shinto music under the influence of continental music (a combination of continental and indigenous instruments) and sing in division into three parts.
* The creation of pieces by Japanese composers.
Until the late tenth century, gagaku is booming and is gradually becoming the favorite music of the noble class. Many pieces are composed and there are many renowned artists. We can mention among them the Emperor Saga and Emperor Ninmyo.
It was then that the kinds of utamono: Saibara and Roei appear.
In 1013, Fujiwara no Kinto compiles poems in a little over 800, as the Waka Roei-chu (Collection of Chinese and Japanese songs).

Decline of Kamakura to Muromachi
The thirteenth century saw the decline gagaku, along with the imperial family. The origin of this decline is linked to the arrival in power of the military class (the shogunate) who found more to his liking Aboriginal music as the dengaku or sarugaku who give birth in Noh and heikyoku, thus rejecting musical forms of the aristocracy.

Disorders Onin no Ran
1467 - 1477) led to the dispersal of musicians and a part of the repertoire was lost. However, the tradition of Gagaku was preserved in part thanks to the nobility who continued to play instruments of the Heian period and, secondly, a few temples and shrines such as the Shi Tenno-ji in Osaka, Kasuga in Nara, Ise in Mie Prefecture, that of Izumo in Shimane ...

The revival of Edo and Meiji
In the early seventeenth century, Tokugawa Ieyasu gakunin collects and builds a set of gagaku for the imperial family in Kyoto and another for his own family in Edo.

During the Meiji Restoration (1868), the royal family merged the two sets created by Ieyasu in establishing its capital in Tokyo, giving rise to the current set of the imperial family.

Contemporary Period
After the Second World War, composers are trying to learn Japanese Gagaku and to borrow elements involving Western musical culture, especially to renovate the genre but failed again to enrich the traditional repertoire.

Case insider until the early twentieth century, gagaku really happens in the Western world after the Second World War, through the organization of "rounds". The influence of Western composers such as Benjamin Britten and Olivier Messiaen.

Gagaku religious, Mikagura
Gagaku music is linked to the cult of the ancestors of the imperial family, Shintoism.
It is performed in the presence of the Emperor during the celebrations at the Imperial Court or its representatives during the celebrations before the altars of Shinto shrines such as those of Izumo, Atsuta (Nagoya), or Ise Kasuga, from sunset till dawn. The ceremonial music is performed during occasions determined - as Yamato-November 22 May (celebration of the dead) or the Azuma-May equinoxes - and not be confused with the o-kagura, folk music played at shrines during festivals and regional mimic mythological stories, which consist of songs, dances and sets different from those of Gagaku.

The celebration of Mikagura is divided into three parts:

* The home of the gods down to earth,
* A longer section in which men offer gifts to the gods and entertain by singing humorous
* A farewell to the deities dating back to heaven with songs consisting of folk poems assembled and not created for this purpose.

The texts of hymns, orally transmitted by heredity, contain many onomatopoeic to obscure and no prayer, praise ...
The Mikagura consists of two types of songs. The hymns, the choir is accompanied kagurabue, Hichiriki, wagon, and shaku, danced and played songs by the following instruments: Ryūteki or komabue, Hichiriki, wagon, shaku, and a choir. (see below for instruments)
Among the twenty musicians, five ondo (three instrumentalists and two choir), directed by nincho (officiating), give the intonations times alternately by the choir divided into two, along with all, and mark the pace through shaku. Between each game, the ninchô explains the purpose of worship and dance.

The kange is an instrumental music for all classified into two categories according to its origin:

* UHO: born in Korea and Manchuria where the dominant colors of the costumes are green and yellow
* Saho: from China and South Asia with the dominant red color in the costumes

Although these two categories have a similar musical structure (heterophony) as in the Bugaku, they differ depending on the use of sho.
In UHO no gaku, the sho do not play the melody, resulting in a contrast between the melody and rhythm dynamics.
On the other hand, the Saho no gaku, holding high notes gives the impression of stasis.

The Bugaku is a music accompanying dances classified into two categories depending on its origin:

* Samai from China, danced on the Saho
* Umai: originally from Korea, danced on the UHO

These categories are associated in pairs. Unlike the past, one piece, cut through instrumental or vocal, is danced by sight.

The dancers' costumes are very colorful. They also wear a headdress, a weapon (sword, spear or shield) and may even avert a grotesque mask varies depending on the subject.

A number of Bugaku is divided into three parts according to the principle of Japanese aesthetics time, the jo-ha-kyu (introduction, development - literally "fragmentation" -; rapid final). This principle is also found in the Noh.

Upon introduction, the woodwinds play a canon in unison (oibuki) accompanied by a percussive rhythm free, allowing them to adjust the length of this part a function of time as the dancers begin to reach the scene from the home.
Then comes the dancing part properly speaking is that the central part (tokyoku). The tempo is still slow but steady (nobe byoshi-, four-two).
When the tempo accelerates, the concluding part begins. The pace becomes fast (byoshi haya-, two-two) which announces the end of the play.

The utaimono or utamono represents the gagaku sung. It is classified into two categories which differ by language poems.

* The Saibara are written in Japanese. The structure of Saibara depends on the length of the poem and therefore has two or three sections by priming each intonation of choir that plays at the same time shaku a rate four times. The chorus then takes up in unison. "BrLes instruments are Saibara Ryūteki the Hichiriki, OHSS without harmonies, the biwa and so no koto.
* The Roei are written in Chinese. The number of Roei is divided into three parts and performed a self-paced and not measured.

The instruments are Roei Ryūteki the Hichiriki, OHSS without harmonies.

Gagaku Instruments
Originally (Nara period), all of gagaku consisted of about thirty instruments whose numbers will decline following the reform of the ninth century music. The professional musicians are called gakunin.

* The percussion:
* Kakko: drum sticks hit by the choir with the rapid pace characteristic of Gagaku. It is used for the Saho and Samai.
* No tsuzumi San: drum larger than kakko indicates that the first steps and is used in the UHO and the umai.
* Shakubyoshi: wooden clappers
* Shoko or Shogo: small bronze gong existing in three sizes and indicating the first time a small periodicity. It is used in kangen and Bugaku.
* Taiko: large drum mallet used in three different formats: dadaiko, tsuridaiko and ninaidaiko. He said the first time a high frequency and is used and kangen Bugaku.

* Winds:
* Hichiriki: wind instrument double reed, like the oboe, used in all types of gagaku
* Kagurabue or yamatobue: Native flute used for sacred songs of Mikagura
* Komabue: Korean flute used for songs in the Mikagura, the UHO and the umai
* Ryuteki or Oteki: flute of Chinese origin used for songs in the Mikagura the Saho, the utamono and Samai
* Sho: mouth organ at seventeen pipes (including two made mute by the reform) which gives the melodic line (ipponbuki) in utamono and eleven aitake (fixed harmonies) in Saho and Bugaku.

* The string:
* Gakubiwa: four-stringed lute used Saibara and kangen
* Gaku-so so so or no koto: thirteen string zither used in Saibara and kangen.
* Yamatogoto or wagon: six-string zither used in Mikagura

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