Essay Sampe on Japanese Music
It is known that Japanese culture in general expresses sad tones more than joyful ones. Japanese society is characterized by predictability, strictness and limited improvisation and is programmed to bear melancholic moods. Japanese holidays have a tendency to lack light and sparkling joy. Moreover, the folk songs of Japanese people are sad as well. Classic pop songs, which are generally referred to as enka, have always been created only in minor tunes. Japanese folk dances are decelerated and smooth and are characterized by chastity, elegance and grace. Such characteristics as bravery, unbridled merriment, the desperate recklessness are absent in Japanese dance. The songs, literature and movies are dominated by sad motives. Predominance of sorrow in Japanese culture can be explained by the fact that from the standpoint of Buddhism, aesthetics of sadness is recognized as pure beauty. Hence, enka, Japanese literature and movies are characterized by melancholic motives and having a tragic ending. .The aim of this paper is to investigate the development of Japanese music throughout the last decades and to determine the factors that influence and shape its trends and moods. It is possible to assume that the tragic history of the Japanese people has established the sadness and grief notes in the traditional and contemporary music of Japan.
The Japanese nation’s origin has stayed unclear for a long time. Since ancient times, Japan had close relationship with mainland Asia, especially with China and Korea. It was determined by the geographical location of the country. As a consequence, Japan was strongly influenced by these countries in all fields, including culture and science. In particular, as it has been evidenced by historical records, continental music was first performed in Japan by Korean musicians back in 453-454 years. It had penetrated into Japanese and Chinese music through the Korean peninsula, acquired special features and became the foundation of Japanese classical music. The practical embodiment of Japanese music was known to be the cult of sorrow and beauty in all its manifestations. The worship of beauty, which is itself the primary source of nature, has always been the driving force of the country’s music culture.
Enka is known to be an extremely popular form of music today. Japan belongs to the countries that put songs above commercial music. It is important to note that Japanese pop music is professional and organized. In Japan, there is a developed system of concerts of non-professional artists, in which the winners can expect to receive professional contracts. Well-developed system of Japanese music and musicians’ fan clubs manufacture a variety of products related to their favorite singers and performers.
One of the most popular music trends in Japan is rock, which is generally abbreviated to J-rock. Japanese researchers believe that rock originated from the World War II. J-rock is aimed to transmit the events and expressiveness of its performers through music. A great influence on the genre of rock music in Japan has been produced by such styles as jazz, alternative rock and metal. The work of Japanese rock groups can be frequently characterized by the music filled with the parts written in blues or jazz styles. Thus, J-rock differs from the mainstream understanding of a bands approach to style in general. After J-rock groups obtained a certain level of popularity, Japanese metal divided into two main areas. One of them evolved under the influence of the so-called glam metal, while the other one experienced the influence of the heavy metal similarly to the Western music. Subsequently, it gave a boost to Japanese metal music as such. In the first part of the 1990-s, Japanese metal scene faced the crisis that was partly caused by the collapse of a number of key groups and the death of several well-known musicians. However, it survived and evolved, creating thousands of followers and fans.
J-rock in Japan is not merely perceived as a style of music; it is now a much more complex concept. J-rock is not just the songs the audience listens to at the concerts. Oppositely, it seems to be a real stage show, which focuses not only on the musical component, but mainly on the action that unfolds on stage. Moreover, there is a number of contemporary European and American rock bands that create similar shows to the ones of their Japanese colleagues.
J-rock musicians are frequently dressed provocatively, creatively in comparison to the social norms and standards of the country. Moreover, in regards to make-up usage, they have long surpassed their counterparts from Western countries. Japanese singers are usually represented by women rockers. However, it should be noted that the world “girls” is applied to these singers not in terms of gender, but in relation to the performers’ appearance. To those, who begin to understand the intricacies of J-rock style, it seems to be very difficult to understand, who is shot in the video and whether a group of musicians comprises of boys or girls. It should also be noted that the vast majority, namely 97% of all Japanese rock bands, is composed of boys, who look like girls. J-rock raises a controversy in Western countries, while it is considered normal and has numerous fans in Japan.
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Thus, the Japanese music has undergone a number of changes in the course of its development over past years. The traditional vision of Japanese music as well as any other form of art, is characterized by melancholy. The sadness and grief of the past produced the biggest influence upon the development of such a style as J-rock and Japanese rock music in general. The sorrow and melancholic moods that are characteristics of the music of Japan have been caused by the influence of China and Korea.
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