Music Of The Waters - online book

Sailors' Chanties, Songs Of The Sea, Boatmen's, Fishermen's,
Rowing Songs, & Water Legends with lyrics & sheet music

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Music of the Waters.                 281
to such phenomena, there must be five tones ; but in stringed instruments, which are all they have in Japan, they make use of chromatic divisions, although the five tones alone are recognized officially.
Seeing what an important place Japan now takes amongst the maritime countries of the world, it may not be unin­teresting to attempt some study of the songs used by its sailors. From the little I have been able to gather, I should conclude that they very much resemble those used by our own blue-jackets, or rather the occasions on which they are used are similar, their object—namely, unity and regu­larity in work—is the same, and the variety of subject; but there the likeness ceases, for, as I have said, the gulf is not to be spanned that divides our and Eastern music.
It is only on board of their merchant-vessels that singing is allowed, the Japanese Navy not permitting the practice on the men-of-war, a band taking the place of the chanty. This probably consists of the " sho," which seems to correspond to our organ, but only in so far as it has pipes. A " koto" also will be found, an instrument not unlike the violin, and probably a "fuye," which is a Japanese flute. Of course there are many varieties of these three, but I believe they will always be found in a Japanese orchestra. The "sho" and the "fuyd" have .tremendous power, and if it be true that silence is a characteristic of nature in Japan (singing-birds being very rare, and only the deep, troubled tones of the crows being heard), what an extraordinary effect this most penetrating orchestra must produce in the stillness that reigns in the waters round the empire. Like most sailors, the Japanese seem to take great pride in handing down to posterity the noble deeds of their countrymen, and the bravery of the chieftains who held sway in feudal times forms the theme of many of their sea-songs.
Almost all these songs are in very slow time, and nearly all are set in a minor key. I think I am not far wrong in stating that this is the case in every kind of Japanese

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