Sustaining Musical Identity of the Ichigenkin: Negotiating Performance, Composition and Aesthetics of Japan's One-string Zither of the Seikyodo Ichigenkin School

Date
2021
Authors
Rice, William Richard
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Lee, Byong W.
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Music
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Tradition and modernization have been competing facets of the Japanese cultural arts since the opening of trade with the West at the beginning of the Meiji Restoration in 1968. Japanese traditional musicians have needed to negotiate to what degree western aesthetic influence should have on the music. The ichigenkin is one such tradition. The ichigenkin is a rare one-string zither, once favored by monks, samurai, and literati classes during the Edo Period. In 1989, at the age of 21, Minegishi Issui (b. 1967) inherited Seikyodo Ichigenkin, a family-run school, founded by her great-great grandfather, Tokuhiro Taimu (1849-1921), dedicated to preserving the art and philosophy of the ichigenkin. In efforts to sustain a disappearing musical art, Minegishi Issui has negotiated a number of changes under her tenure as iemoto of Seikyodo Ichigenkin. These changes include incorporating new playing techniques, commissioning new compositions, experimenting with musical form and structure, improvising in performance, and incorporating cross-cultural influences. Despite these objective changes and additions to the ichigenkin tradition, I argue that Minegishi has kept the cultural aesthetic of the music that gives the Seikyodo Ichigenkin school its identity and meaning, all while adhering to the original philosophy set forth by the school’s founder. This thesis will discuss efforts that Minegishi Issui has taken to sustain and bring new life to the ichigenkin tradition.
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Music, ichigenkin, Japanese traditional music, Minegishi Issui, Seikyodo Ichigenkin, Tokuhiro Taimu, zither
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144 pages
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