The Evolution of Japanese Music: From Chinese and Western to Traditional Japanese
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Despite frequent official closures of the country, the music of Japan did not develop in isolation from the rest of the world. Many of the concepts held central to composing, performing, and teaching were imported along with Buddhism, from or through China and Korea, beginning around the fifth and sixth centuries. Japan was a fragmented land for much of its history, ruled over by a large variety of small lords who each controlled as much area as they could defend successfully. The rulers of Japan had realized around the 7th century that they had no real writing system, which made running the country a little difficult, and so began importing foreign scholars at a rapid rate to assist with fixing the problem. These scholars, who were mainly from China, did not just bring their knowledge of writing, but many other parts of Tang~ culture as well. Religion, music, philosophy, science, and many other ideas were all fair game for importation. These ideas arrived at the imperial courts first, and eventually trickled down to the commoners over time, changing as they did so to fit their new surroundings. The material goods which were brought in often stayed in the hands of the aristocrats, with only the knowledge of how to make more and how to use them passing. on to everyone. It is actually because of this convenient fact that there remain examples of many musical instruments which were made in China and given to the emperors of Japan throughout the centuries.
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