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Folk Song In Japan: The Background

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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter of the book Traditional Folk Song in Modern Japan Sources, Sentiment and Society describes developments in the Japanese folk song world since the onset of significant Westernization and modernization in the latter nineteenth century. Since that time, the concept of a genre of music called min'yō ('folk song') has spread gradually throughout Japan, and min'yō has become a distinct and respected genre. Spurred by European Romantic influences, this development also depended on indigenous factors including urbanization, renewed national self-confidence, respect for agriculture, and improved transportation and communication. The chapter discusses distinction between min'yō ('folk song') and minzoku geinō ('folk performing arts'). The meaning of the term zoku was traced through the centuries, providing some insight into changes in attitudes towards traditional popular music during the past century. The chapter also briefs about the basic musical parameters of min'yō: instrumentation, and musical features.

Keywords: European Romantic influence; Japanese folk song; min'yo; minzoku geinō; zoku



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