Gagaku

Gagaku ("elegant music") is a type of Japanese classical music. It arrived from Korea together with the Buddhism. For several centuries it was part of everyday life at the Imperial Court in Kyoto. Gagaku includes songs that belong to three traditional music forms – kuniburi no utamai, komagaku and togaku. Melodies in gagaku music are based on Yo (pentatonic) scale.

Gagaku
Gagaku

Gagaku is performed as concert music (kangen) or together with traditional dance called bugaku. In such gugaku performances string instruments are not used. Some temples and members of Tenrikyo religious movement include both gagaku and bugaku in their ceremonies.

Wind instruments in gagaku music are hichiriki (oboe), ryūteki (transverse flute), u (large mouth organ), sho (mouth organ), komabue, azuma-asobi-bue or chukan, haishō, shakuhachi and kagurabue. Five types of string instrument are used by the gagaku musicians. They are gakubiwa (lute), gakuso (koto), genkan, kugo (angled harp) and yamatogoto (Japanese zither).

Traditional Japanese percussion instruments in gagaku music are shōko (small gong), various drums (kakko, tsuri-daiko, ikko, san-no-tsuzumi), shakubyoshi (wooden clapper) and hōkyō (metallophone).