The Japanese Sounds of Music


Japanese culture -- especially the popular music -- can be a surprising, often disorienting crazy quilt of austere, ancient traditions, futuristic experimental music and crass, glitzy pop. Adding to the mix is the fervent embrace by Japanese of such foreign music styles as rock, blues, jazz and even country music, not merely as fans but as tenacious practitioners.

Sukiyaki And Chips is a giddy, kaleidoscope of the Japanese music scene. It moves from the superheated world of teenyboppers to the austere, highly disciplined world of a master shakuhachi players and zen monk. Along the way stops are made in the last remaining old-line music hall variety shows, traditional Noh Theater performances and new style erotic theater, as well as with noted progressive composer Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Encapsulating the seeming contradictions of the contemporary music scene is Tadanobu Tsunoda, a Japanese researcher who claims to have demonstrated that Japanese hear with a different side of their brain than Westerners. This video interviews him in his laboratory where he discusses varying perceptions of shakuhachi music East and West.

Be forewarned that despite its cover photo, there is precious little shakuhachi music to be seen or heard on this video. Its price, however, may be worth the closing segment, a rare interview with and portrait of the legendary shakuhachi player Watazumido-Shuso. Watazumido has influenced some of the greatest players and teachers in Japan today. His presence is clearly conveyed through the depth of his words and powerful force of his blowing. Approximately 60 minutes. Color. V-2

Learn more about Watazumido Doso Roshi
Recordings of Watazumi playing shakuhachi
Read "The Way of Watazumi"
Shakuhachi Sheet Music originally transmitted from Watazumi

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