Okinawan music is a traditional type of music in Japan, sang by Okinawa people. Most of the Japans traditional songs have been forgotten by various societies. Currently, Okinawa music remains as the only traditional music surviving in Japan. In most of the festivals in Japan Okinawa music is sang by hundreds of people. Okinawa people parade themselves along the streets as they accompany the Okinawa music with fabulous dance called the katcharsee.
The okinawan people are known to have a special liking of songs and dances (Lipsitz 88). There are unique dances that accompany each Okinawa song during the festivals. The okinawan songs and dances have been passed from one generation to another with a lot of improvements in them. There are specific musical instruments that are preferred when Okinawa music is played for instance the three-string lute is commonly played.
In several occasions where Okinawa songs are played a celebration song known as kajade Fu is played to open the ceremony. Such occasions where Okinawa songs are played include wedding ceremonies, presidential gatherings, and other special occasions (Young 103). During the okinawan performances “kadiku and Atchame Guwa” are the songs that are played to end the ceremony.
At this time of ending the ceremony singers, dancers, and the audience gather on the stage to sing as well as dancing to close the occasion. Songs and dances are sung over and over again at the stage until every audience comes at the stage to join the rest.
Different songs of Okinawa have different meanings ranging from love songs, patriotic songs, and educative songs. For instance, kana-yo Bushi is an Okinawa song of love sang by women as they express their love to their men through a hand towel woven by them. Another example of Okinawa colorful music is Toshin Doi that was played to American and other nations in the year 2000. This is the year when the United States president Bill Clinton attended the G-8 summit on Okinawa, and this song was sung.
The okinawan music culture is interesting. Okinawa people mostly make use of sanshin in their traditional music that is believed to have come from Ryukyuan dignity during the ruling of Sho Shin.
The introduction of sanshin in Okinawa music made the musicians to express their feelings in amore striking manner. Sanshin in English means a three stringed guitar though it’s an instrument relatively smaller than a guitar, and is covered by a snakeskin (Selden and Hein 120). The sanshin is a small musical instrument and produces a very high sound, its also called banjo when played together with Okinawa music.
Traditionally the okinawan music is played into four categories. It’s categorized depending on the island of origin. The first category is Okinawa-honto; these are songs that are smoothly sung with standard tunes of singers, they are also considered to be more stylish than the rest. The second category is Miyako music, songs that have well designed melodies and legend of the natural calamities concerning the history of the island.
The third category is Yaeyama music that is mainly composed of festive songs sung in most of the ceremonies and special occasions (Nakasone 82). The final category of Okinawa music is Amami songs that are composed of both styles of Japanese and Okinawa, this category seem to be also classic.
When Minyo and Shimauta are played traditionally, the dancers enjoy themselves as they do it with interesting styles capturing the attention of the audience. Most of the songs that are okinawan minyo depend on the life experiences of the writer, and they are all over Japan. Shimauta refers to island music and has been there for a long duration of time approximately 30 years.
The culture of okinawan music approves the use of musical instruments. The commonly used musical instruments are the sanshin and taiko, as they are found to accompany the traditional okinawan music very well. For over the years, modern okinawan artists have been using some other instruments like violin, tambourine, and flutes among other modern musical instruments.
The okinawan music community has a culture of writing a new song every day (Young 270). This community has remained as aggressive as it was 500 years back. Their songs cover almost everything in the universe as its possible to find vegetable songs, sky songs and many more.
Okinawa music has evolved in three perspectives such as minyo, rock and jazz. After the Second World War the okinawan musicians chose jazz as a way of expressing their songs well and passing their intended message to the audience. Jazz developed well with the rock adding more value to the traditional okinawan music.
Some famous okinawan artists like Paul Ishigaki made popular performance with his jazz and initiated the spread of jazz singers all over Japan (Sakamoto and Allen 78). Up to now there are many jazz artists in Japan live houses. From the look of the things the okinawan rock and jazz is alive and advancing forcefully within the music industry, thus encouraging more and more audience of their performances.
For many years now, the Okinawa music is expanding and blossoming as the musicians continue to enjoy the traditional tunes while inventing new music for the future. Currently, the Okinawa music is receiving much attention from the audience and other dignitaries in all over Japan. For the last few years Okinawa singers have been influencing other singers from the mainland Japan to work together and expand the Okinawa music and attract more audience (Lipsitz 45).
The Okinawa music still has become so popular due to its current hitting songs concerning the modern social life in Japan. The most famous songs are those criticizing the young schoolgirls who are being cheated by old men for money. This type of music pleases more and more people as it is educating these youngsters to have a bright future.
During the world war 11, the Okinawa people were frustrated, but their classical music expanded and gave them much hope for the future. This okinawan music has evolved from traditional perspective to a classical type of music attracting many funs. The okinawan music has crossed the bounders to educate as well as entertain people internationally (Selden and Hein 160).
The funs of okinawan music are over the world. Even those people, who can hardly understand the Japanese language, enjoy the sweet lyrics and melodies. Most of the best CDs of okinawan music can be purchased online and their videos can also be watched online.
The availability of the okinawan music online has helped in the expansion of their market. Famous musicians, guitarists, and dancers in Okinawa music have also contributed much in the growth of this music. The Okinawa music has musicians who are recognized globally and are acceptable in entertaining and educating people. The okinawan music has evolved drastically from being a local music to an international music.
Lipsitz, George. Dangerous Crossroads: Popular Music, Postmodernism, and the Poetics of Place. ISBN1859849350, 9781859849354, Verso, 2009.
Nakasone, Ronald. Okinawan Diaspora. ISBN0824825306, 9780824825300, University of Hawaii Press, 2002.
Sakamoto, Rumi and Allen Matthew. Popular Culture, Globalization And Japan.
ISBN0415368987, 9780415368988, Taylor & Francis, 2006.
Selden, Mark and Hein, Laura Islands Of Discontent: Okinawan Responses To Japanese And American Power. ISBN0742518663, 9780742518667, Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.
Young, Richard. Music, Popular Culture, Identities. (Vol 19), ISBN9042012498, 9789042012493, Rodopi, 2002.