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The Modern Urban Folk Song World

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Chapter Summary

By the 1960s, Japanese folk song had become primarily an urban phenomenon. Min'yō had also become a commodity and an industry: the broadcast media, record companies, newspaper companies, publishers all had a considerable stake in the Min'yō world. This chapter examines the Min'yō world as it stands in the present day in the principal cities of Japan. The urban condition contributes certain features to Min'yō performance and transmission. Teachers also have more students, more professional opportunities and higher incomes than in the countryside. The Min'yō world still depends greatly on personalized, affective links as embodied in the iemoto system. Min'yō students and teachers alike have huge repertoires when compared with fifty years ago. The impact of urban multi-song contests, with their panels of influential and highly judgemental judges, has led to increasing standardization but has also provided a stimulus to students.

Keywords: iemoto system; Japanese folk song; Min'yō; urban phenomenon



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