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Beyond The Court: A Challenge To The Gagaku Tradition In The‘Reconstruction Project’ Of The National Theatre

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the history of the transformation and recontextualization of gagaku. It outlines how what is generally understood as one of Japan's most ancient music genres has been reshaped and negotiated only relatively recently to produce an image of one highly significant aspect of Japanese cultural identity. The chapter examines the new movements and popularity of gagaku by analysing the National Theatre's activities over the last four decades, and evaluates them within the history of gagaku and Western contemporary art music. It gives a brief introduction to the history of the popularization of gagaku since the Meiji Restoration of 1868 until the 1960s. This is followed by a close examination of the gagaku concerts and activities of the National Theatre. The National Theatre has also commissioned new compositions from artists within the Western classical tradition, some performed with standard traditional instruments, others with the reconstructed ones.

Keywords: gagaku tradition; Japanese cultural identity; Meiji restoration; national theatre's activities; Western contemporary art music



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