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MUSIC OF JAPAN.                       215
mances, Ousting to their ability to delight their audience, for a voluntary recompense.
Every day at the close of working hours, one may see groups of artizans, and laborers, as well as many women of the working classes, either at the door of the workshop or at a street corner, arranged in a semi-circle around the story-teller.
National legends and romances are usually given only by those women who have made a profession of music and singing. This branch of street singers forms a large class; they are less roving than the others, and sometimes of rather a high order of talent, as compared with their more itinerant associates. The most distinguished of them have three or four musicians as accompanists, and do not themselves play upon any instrument. The effect of these combinations is said sometimes to be very charming, when heard and seen on a summer's evening, in a light bamboo frame work, hung round with vines, and lighted with paper lanterns.
Humbert has given the subject of some of these legendary songs, and they are found to be of a most sensational description. A few examples will suffice to prove this.
"Asahina-Sabro charges a troop of enemies, and passes through them, lifting with his right hand, a soldier wearing a casque and cuirass, and spinning him round in the air, while with the left hand he kills two equally redoubtable warriors with one blow of his mace."*
Humbert, Japan, p. 258






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III