Shaping a Music Genre through Competition and Virtuosity : 21st Century Tsugaru Shamisen Contests in Aomori Prefecture, Japan

Barsky, Jacob Meir
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2013]
Tsugaru shamisen is a Japanese improvisatory instrumental folk genre that developed in the northeast part of Honshu in the Tsugaru region of Aomori prefecture. Today, Tsugaru shamisen has moved beyond its roots as a regional folk style and developed into a popular form of Japanese neo-traditional music that is both commercially successful throughout Japan and often recognized internationally. This thesis examines virtuosity and Tsugaru shamisen performance competitions through a field study of the 2012 National Tsugaru Shamisen Competition in Hirosaki and the 2012 All-Japan Tsugaru Shamisen Competition in Kanagi. In this thesis I argue that the Tsugaru shamisen genre's evolution as a music driven by virtuosity and competition has made possible its unusual success as a commercially viable national and international music genre that is also able to act as a lucrative commodity for regional music tourism in Aomori Japan.
M.A. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
Japanese, instrumental folk genre, neo-traditional music
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