Repertoire, Ensembles and Instrumentation in gagaku Music

There are three major bodies of music and dance covered by the term gagaku:

1. Kuniburi-no-utamai: Accompanied vocal music of indigenous origin. They are based on primitive songs of ancient Japan such as Kagura-uta, azuma-asobi, yamato-uta and, kume-uta. Instruments accompanying these songs are divided up into four choirs:


2. Kangen and bugaku: Respectively, instrumental music and accompanied dance deriving from Asian mainland. The music is further sub-divided into two classes according to the region of its origin: Tôgaku refers to music of Chinese origin, it includes repertoire for kangen and bugaku style while komagaku applies to music of Korean origin and most of its repertoire is in bugaku style.

Instruments for kangen are divided up into three choirs:

Instruments for bugaku are divided up into two choirs:

3. Saibara and rôei: Vocal music that developed at the Japanese court in the 9th and 10th centuries. The text used for saibara is in Japanese while rôei’s text is in Chinese.

Instruments accompanying saibara are divided up into four choirs:

Instruments accompanying rôei are divided up into three choirs: