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Japanese Folk Song: Retrospect, Circumspect, Prospect

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Chapter Summary

Min'yō is now a classical genre in the eyes of professional teachers but a potentially popular genre from the viewpoint of the broadcast and recording industries. These industries, searching for new products and wider audiences, strive to dress up familiar songs in novel garb, or commission the composition and recording of 'new folk songs'. Min'yō has become a major, named category of Japanese music. In 1971, over 40 per cent of the adult population of this highly modernized country said they enjoyed listening to min'yō and in 1978 it was still the second favourite musical genre overall, after enka. For urbanites, min'yō provides an antidote to the more dehumanizing aspects of urbanization and modernization, helping to build a community. Min'yō are often difficult to separate from minzoku geinō as a whole. The decline in min'yō aficionados is indisputable.

Keywords: 'new folk songs'; dehumanizing aspects; Japanese music; Min'yō; minzoku geinō; professional teachers



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