Gagaku is the oldest traditional court music of Japan. It consists of songs, dances, and a mixture of other Asian music. There are two waves: instrumental (kigaku) – Kangen and Bugaku, and vocal (Seigaku) – Kumeuta, Kagurauta, Azumaasobi, Saibara, and Roei.
Shomyo is a Buddhist song which is an added melody for a sutra. It originated from India, and it has been used in Japan ever since the Nara
period. It is sung a capella (exclusively voices, no instruments) by one or more Buddhist monks.
Joruri is a form of narrative music. It uses the shamisen. There are four main joruri styles; these represent the centuries-old traditions that have survived to today’s date.
. Gidayubushi – a style of joruri; used for bunraku (puppet plays).
. Tokiwazubushi – a style of joruri; used for kabuki dances (Shosagoto).
. Kiyomotobushi – a refreshingly unrestrained and light style of joruri, used for kabuki dances.
. Shinnaibushi – the typically lively and upbeat style of joruri, used for kabuki.
Shakuhachi music began in the Edo period. It was used as a replacement for sutra.
Japanese traditional instruments are: Biwa, Koto, Ichigenkin, Sanshin, Yamatogoto, Kokyu, Hocchiku, Nohkan, Ryuteki, Shakuhachi, Shinobue, Hichiriki, Sho, Yu, Horagai, Kakko, Taiko, Otsuzumi, Kotsuzumi, Tsuzumi, Shime-Daiko, Hyoshigi, and Shoko.
The popular artists in the japanese traditional music area are: Yoshida Brothers and Rin’.