IAML/IASA Annual Conference, Perugia, Monday 2 September 1996, 14:15 - 15:45

IAML. Cataloguing Commission

Michitaka Takeuchi (Kunitachi College of Music, Tokyo).

Documentary sources of Japanese music of the 18th and 19th centuries: its classification and cataloguing

In Japan, there has been a rich variety of many different genres of music. On this occasion, I would like to consider source materials to document music from the 18th and 19th centuries written for the three-stringed shamisen. Most of this music is either derived from the Kabuki theater or closely related to other forms that are used on stage.
The first recorded performance of Kabuki was in 1603. The Japanese word is written today with three characters that mean "song", "dance" and "acting". As these characters imply, Kabuki is a form of theater in which acting and dancing have become one, In a day's program of Kabuki, there was always at least one dance. This dance would be accompanied by music featuring the shamisen. Two forms of music were used, a lyrical style called Nagauta, featuring poetic descriptions of the scene, and several different narrative genres that would tell the story through dance in scenes called "joruri shosagoto". Originally these styles were quite distinct, but after the 19th century the boundaries between lyrical and narrative forms became blurred.
In the city of Edo (the old name for Tokyo), a style called Edo Nagauta was born in 1727. These pieces were composed of short lyrical sections strung together. Narrative forms called Joruri for the Kabuki theater that included storytelling accompanied by the shamisen included Ichu-bushi. Edo Joruri began with Kato-bushi in 1717. In addition there was a style developed by the singer Miyakoji Bongo-no-jo who split off from Ichu-bushi. His singing became immensely popular over many parts of Japan but was eventually banned by the shogunate. In 1747, Tokiwazu-bushi was developed by musicians that came from Miyakoji Bungo-no-jo's tradition. In 1748, further splits created Tomimoto-bushi. Finally, in 1814, Kiyomoto-bushi was born when a group of musicians broke away from Tomimoto-bushi. Although Miyakoji-bushi was used in the Kabuki theaters of Kamigata (the present cities of Kyoto and Osaka), a narrative form of music called Gidayu-bushi was used in the puppet drama, now called Bunraku. Many plays from the puppet theater were adapted for the Kabuki theater and Gidayu-bushi came to be an integral part of the music of the Kabuki theater as well.
In the Kabuki theater today, pure Kabuki music styles like Nagauta, Tokiwazu and Kiyomoto are constantly used and are preserved by large numbers of professional and amateur musicians. Other styles like Ichu-bushi, Kato-bushi, Tomimoto-bushi and Miyasono-bushi are only used in Kabuki very infrequently and listened to by small groups of devotees.
We know very little about the working situation of musicians in the Edo period (1603-1868). But the various posters and programs published for the Kabuki theater can give us some idea of the situation for the city of Edo. It seems that in Edo, groups of Nagauta musicians were contracted to play in a particular theater for several years at a time while Joruri musicians were contracted for one year at a time. A Kabuki season began in the eleventh month and ran until the tenth month of the following year. The first production was the most lavish and was called the kaomise or "face showing" performance since it was an opportunity to show off the new company for the year. The names of the musicians that were already contracted to appear in a theater for the year appeared on a poster that announced the names of the company for the year. This poster was called the Kaomise Banzuke. The particular plays performed in a month were announced in Tsuji Banzuke ("street corner poster"). On occasion, a special play on a program would have a separate poster of its own called an Ichimai Banzuke ("one street poster"). Before the opening day of a particular program, picture books called Ehon Banzuke appeared which give us an idea of the rough contents of a play and its story. Of course, there were often changes between the time this banzuke appeared and opening. The Mon Banzuke ("banzuke with actors' crests") were published after the opening of the production and give more accurate idea of the contents of the play.
The actual scripts used on stage were not published, but story books with pictures called E-Iri Kyogenbon ("playbook with pictures") or E-Iri Nehon ("source book with pictures") give us an idea of the story of the play.
But even though the words of the actors were not published, the texts of the music used on stage were carefully published. Until around 1800, in addition to the lyrics themselves, alongside them, there were words or symbols to suggest the music. However, by the 19th century these booklets came to show only the text of the music. It seems that most of the texts for Nagauta pieces were written by the same playwright or playwrights responsible for the rest of the play.
These booklets were printed from wooden blocks. The text would be written out and pictures drawn by an artist. Then the block would be carved by another craftsman and then the actual copies printed by yet another craftsman. When printing from wooden blocks, after about 300 or 500 copies, the print becomes unclear. If there was sufficient demand, a new printing would be made. If changes had been made in the music, these changes might be reflected in the new printing.
The pages of these books were made from thin sheets of Japanese rice paper that were printed on one side and folded in half so that there would be print on both sides of a page. A booklet with the text of a Nagauta piece would usually not exceed five or six sheets of paper. A booklet with the text of a Kabuki Joruri piece would rarely exceed 15 sheets of paper. The patrons of the theater would buy these booklets and some of them would use the booklets to learn to perform the pieces themselves, often taking actual music lessons. The demand for popular pieces was such that they were printed and reprinted many different times and some pieces have more than ten different books. But unfortunately, there are no dates on these books. It is only possible to guess at the date when they were published by looking at such features as the style of the handwriting, the name of the publisher and the type of paper. Often there are illustrations of actors and lists of names of musicians on the cover, but these cannot always be used directly as indications of the publication date. The full texts of Gidayu pieces used for puppet plays were different. They were very long and most of them use nearly 100 sheets of paper. Rather than being used by lovers of music, these books were mostly read like novels.
As you can see, the source materials for researching shamisen music are very ephemeral and are the popular printing of the time. There is a wide variety and rich quantity of source materials for the actors and acting of the Kabuki theater, but there is very little documentation of the music. With great effort it was possible to collect some source materials. Today, it is almost impossible to find any more materials. Over the space of thirty-five years, I have collected around 10,000 items. This collection has been given to the library of the Kunitachi College of Music. It is being catalogued and already seven volumes of the catalogue have appeared. Three more volumes are scheduled to be issued. (I will bring copies of the volumes that have appeared already so that you will be able to see them).
On the basis of this catalogue, an accurate chronology of shamisen music will be prepared. Part of this chronology has been completed and is scheduled to be part of this exhibit.
There are forms of music that were used in 18th century Kabuki that disappeared entirely while others were absorbed into other genres. The use of music was different in different geographical regions. Often music was reused and put together in new forms on stage. In addition, since source materials are so scarce, it is often extremely difficult to classify them.
I hope to give a clearer idea of the different types of source materials by showing a chart of the different types and to explain it by showing actual examples of these source materials.

Sources documentaires de la musique japonaise du 18ème et 19ème siècle: classification et catalogage

La musique pour shamisen à trois cordes est dérivée par le théâtre Kabuki ou par d'autres formes de spectacle théâtral. Le Théâtre Kabuki est documenté à partir de 1603, comme spectacle mixte de chant, danse et action - comme témoignent les trois idéogrammes qui forment son nom. Dans le Kabuki on avait toujours au moin une danse jouée par le shamisen.
Au cours des siècles, le Kabuki connut plusieures variantes, à Edo (l'ancienne Tokyo, ou en 1727 naquit le Edo Nabuki), Kyoto (Ichi-bushi, après 1700), et dans les autres villes du Japon.
La situation de travail des exécutants est documentée par les programmes et les affiches de la saison des théâtres, qui durait du onzième mois au dixième de l'année suivante; les contrats étaient normalement de une ou plusièures saisons.
Il n'y avait pas de livrets complets des textes, mais plutôt des livres illustrés qui résumaient la partie récitée et reportaient le texte complet de la seule partie chantée, avec - jusq'environ à 1800 - des mots ou des signes qui rappelaient la partie musicale. Les livrets étaient publiés sur papier japonais en xylographie de 300 à 500 éxemplaires; si la demande était supérieure, on préparait une autre édition, qui pouvait accueiller les éventuelles variantes du spectacle.
Malgré la quantité de sources sur le théâtre, il y a très peu de documentation sur la musique. Les environ 10,000 documents que j'au récueilli au cours de trente-cinq ans ont été donnés à la bibliothèque du Kunitachi College of Music et sont maintenant en train d'ètre catalogués, produisant des volumes et une complète chronologie de la musique pour shamisen.