While I do have some examples of Japanese instrumental folk music 78s, I thought this might be unique to post: an example of gagaku, or the traditional court music of Japan, recorded in the late 1920s or so.
First off, I have to send heaps of thanks to Steve and Sari at Airform Archives and inbetweennoise.com, as well as Rika Hiro, for going far beyond the call of duty for translations and meanings. Without their help and information, I’d be more or less clueless. So, this entry was co-produced!
Gagaku is truly an ancient form of music, dating as far back as 700 CE, when it was employed by the Imperial court. There are numerous styles and variants of gaguku, and the one being played here is an example of saibara. I don’t think I could explain the song type better than my friends, who wrote:
Sai-bara is a kind of gagaku song that is grew out of the folk songs of horsemen….basically the folk song of someone who owns a horse and sort of used the horse like a taxi cab (holding the reins while the rich person rode on the horse, because the rider is above the horse person in class)…[saibara] was eventually, during the 700’s, influenced by gagaku or entered the canon of gagaku and became more of a proper song.
The players listed, Kunai-sho gakubu, are the Music Department of the Ministry of Imperial Household. And the song title, Koromogo-e, roughly translates to “exchange of clothes,” in the sense that changing of clothes means the changing of seasons. And in the sense that in ancient Japan, this phrasing was a another way of suggesting the union of a man and woman.
Issue Number: 13024
Matrix Number: 273
4 thoughts on “Kunai-sho gakubu – Koromogo-e”
this is a disgustingly amazing record. gagaku is my favorite japanese music, and this disc is phenomenal!!!!!! i definitely have shellac envy. thanks much for the props too…
Glad you like it! Thank YOU for all the info!
wow! sounds great, it’s so hard to get early japanese stuff, you must have been good in a past life
This sounds like it must be an amazing recording. Is there any chance that you could upload it again?