Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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(i) Indigenous music.

Features of the music of the early ancient period are only vaguely known through archaeological materials (see §II, 2 below) and historical sources of the 8th century; the latter describe musical instruments such as the koto (zither), fue (flute), tsuzumi (drum) and suzu (bell-tree). These instruments have native names and are thought to be indigenous, whereas most of those that appeared later originated in China. The performing arts were a reflection of the way of life in Japan’s Neolithic and early Bronze periods. During this time the ancient clan system was developing into an imperial state. The basic shamanism of early antiquity became systematized into a state religion called Shintō (‘The Way of the Gods’), which helped to strengthen the political power of the imperial court. The music and dance of Shintō ceremonies had already become the main body of court music by the end of this period when, in the 5th and 6th centuries, mainland Asian styles began to stream into Japan.

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