To listeners educated in Western classical tradition one of the most striking features of gagaku music is its foremost emphasis on timbre. Unlike Western classical orchestral works, which use functional harmony and instrumental sound fusion gagaku music employs fixed harmony and non-fusion. This original sound results both from the acoustical properties of instruments comprising the ensemble, as well as from compositional techniques used to mix them together. This research focuses on orchestration in one of the three principal bodies of gagaku music: kangen. Its aim is to assist listeners who would like to understand better how to listen to gagaku music, and composers who would like to add new works to its repertoire.
The authors wish to thank Ensemble Reigakusha whose generous participation made this project possible.