Curiosities of Music - online book

Rare facts about the music traditions of many nations & cultures

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two actors are rehearsing together the attitudes and gestures which in a few moments are to delight the spectators; and another sitting on his heels, before a looking glass placed upon the floor, is painting his face and adjusting his feminine head-dress. A young devil beside him, has thrown back his mask, with his horns and mane over his shoulders and is fanning himself, while the chief of the wrestlers, is tranquilly smoking his pipe, in the midst of the acrobats.
Among the crowd, carpenters are coming and going, carrying the screens and partitions for the next scene; the machinist is working a trap through which a whirlwind of flame is about to escape; and the piece is going on outside to the accompaniment of drum beating, amid the con­versation of the public in the house, and that of the disengaged actors."*
Such briefly, is the condition of music and the drama in Japan, but such astounding changes are taking place throughout every part of the life of this enterprising people, that a description which is appropriate at present, may be a record of past customs, ten years hence. Already there is a tendency in upper circles towards Western music, but this may be rather a result of fashion (which is being rapidly Europeanized) rather than of genuine appreciation; even the present empress of Japan has, it is said, a real taste for European music and instruments. She is a good performer upon the piano-forte.
• Humbert, Japan, p. 337.

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