History of Music in Japan

Gagaku is elegant classical music of the Japanese Imperial Court, which was derived from Chinese models. It flourished between the 8th and 12th centuries, then declined for several centuries until a revival of interest in national traditions in during the Meiji Period . Court orchestras were divided into two sections, with formally prescribed functions. The orchestra of the “right” played Korean music. The orchestra of the “left” played Chinese, Indian or Japanese music. The repertoire of an orchestra included kangen (instrumental) pieces and  bugaku (dance) pieces. 

Today, a gagaku ensemble usually consists of 16 player performing on drums and kettle drums, string instruments such as the biwa (lute) and koto (plucked zither) and wind instruments such as the hichikiri (Japanese oboe) and various types of flute.


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