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Japanese "Gagaku"

Gagaku (literally, "elegant music") is one of the oldest unbroken teacher-to-pupil musical traditions in the world, kept alive since the 7th century.

Gagaku is one of Japan's only styles that uses a full orchestra--a range of string, wind, and percussion instruments. Other musical traditions are intended to accompany singing or to create dramatic effects for theatrical performances, but gagaku is music made for listenting.

During Japan's Heian period (794-1185), gagaku was widespread as the popular music of daily life. With the rise of the military ghogunate, gagaku was practiced only in temples and shrines. Hidden away within the Imperial Court, local audiences had a few opportunities to hear gagaku. However, foreign composers such as Igor Stravinsky and Pierre Boulez brought international attention to this style.


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