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MUSIC OF JAPAN.                     217
The laborers of Japan, sometimes sing while at their toil, in a measured but cheerful manner.* Before leaving the subject of Japanese songs, it may be interesting to note that in the days of Ksempfer, the Japanese were as curious about our songs, as we are to hear those of barbaric nations; for the emperor and his court, insisted upon that grave historian dancing, and singing before them.f On one of these interesting occa­sions the historian basely deceived the imperial Japanese searcher after knowledge; for on being commanded to sing, he sang to the emperor, a love ditty, which " he had formerly composed for a lady, for whom he had a particular esteem;" and upon the emperor inquiring the ^meaning of the song, he answered that it was an ode of praise, in honor of the emperor and his court.J Let us hope that the Japanese will not lead our investi­gators astray in such a manner.
The court of Japan had, at that era, musicians attached to its service, though by no means on the grand scale of the Chinese court. The empress had her private band, consisting of players upon the birva, the koto, and the samsinn. Theatrical representations were sometimes added to music. A corps of young comedians played little operas, or executed character dances, some grave and slow, in which a long mantle was worn; others lively and playful, the dancers appearing suddenly
*Thonberg, Voyage to Japan (Sherwood's Ed.), p. 293. t Ksempfer's history of Japan, p. 815 (Pinkerton's), t Ibid, p. 818.






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