The Kyushu biwa traditions

Authored by: Hugh de Ferranti

The Ashgate Research Companion to Japanese Music

Print publication date:  October  2008
Online publication date:  February  2017

Print ISBN: 9780754656999
eBook ISBN: 9781315172354
Adobe ISBN: 9781351697613


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This chapter is concerned with a regional music culture. The biwa music of Kyushu and the near reaches of southwestern Japan 1 has a history that overlaps with that of the canonical heike-biwa tradition (Chapter 4) but differs in many respects, including the incorporation of biwa as a tool for Buddhist ritual, the relations of sung or recited text to written text sources, the kinds of narrative repertory performed, the contexts for performance, and the types of instruments played. The Kyushu biwa traditions can be seen as distinctive regional practices which at times have been formative influences upon the biwa narrative music favoured in Japan’s historical centres of cultural and political power, while at other times being deeply influenced by those canonical styles.

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