Traditional orchestra at Kyoto Palace

Gagaku is classical Japanese court music. [1] Gagaku was brought to Japan from China in the 8th century. [1] The meaning of Gagaku is literally 'elegant music'. [2] Most of the music that survives is classified as Togaku (music from the Tang Dynasty). [3] They are performed as dance pieces and concert pieces. [3] In modern Japan, Gagaku is performed at ceremonies like that of New Year or a wedding held at a Shinto shrine.


Gagaku instruments consists of wind instruments, string instruments and percussion instruments. [4] There are three type of wind instruments. They are Sho, Hichiriki and Ryuteki. There are mainly two kinds of stringed instruments, Koto and Biwa. [5] Also there are three kinds of percussion instruments, Dadaiko, Shoko and Kakko. The wind instruments usually carry the melody. [4] The two huge drums called dadaiko are a colorful part of a Gagaku performance. [4]

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