This document was originally published in 'Noh' or Accomplishment: A Study of the Classical Stage of Japan. Ernest Fenollosa & Ezra Pound. London: Macmillan and Co., 1916. pp. 53-6.

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THE importance of the music is in its intervals [he seems to mean intervals between beats, i.e. rhythm intervals, not "intervals" of pitch]. It is just like the dropping of rain from the eaves.

The musical bar is a sort of double bar made up of five notes and seven notes, or of seven notes and then seven more notes, the fourteen notes being sung in the same time as the twelve first ones.

The division of seven syllables is called "yo," that of five is called "in"; the big drum is called "yo," and the small drum "in." The seven syllables are the part of the big drum, the five syllables are the part of the small drum -- but if they come in succession it is too regular; so sometimes they reverse and the big drum takes the "in" part and the small drum the "yo."

The head of the chorus naturally controls the musicians. The chorus is called "kimi," or lord, and the "cats," or musicians, are called "subjects." When Minoru acts as head of the chorus, he says he can manage the "cats" by a prolonging or shortening of sounds. The "cats" must conform to him. The chorus is subject to the shite, or chief actor. A certain number of changes may have crept into the tradition. The art consists in not being mechanical. The "cats," the chorus, and the shite "feel out their own originality," and render their own emotions. Even during the last fifteen years [1] some changes may have crept in unconsciously. Even in Tokugawa days there never was any general score bringing all the parts under a single eye. There is not and never has been any such score. There are independent traditions. [NOTE: The privileges of acting as "cats" and as waki were hereditary privileges of particular families, just as the privilege of acting the chief parts pertained to the members of the five hereditary schools.] Minoru and other actors may know the parts [he means here the musical air] instinctively or by memory; no one has ever written them down. Some actors know only the arias of the few pieces of which they are masters.

Each "cat" of each school has his own traditions. When he begins to learn, he writes down in his note-book a note for each one of the twelve syllables. Each man has his own notation, and he has a more or less complete record to learn from. These details are never told to any one. The ordinary actors and chorus singers do not know them.

In singing, everything depends on the most minute distinction between "in" and "yo." Minoru was surprised to hear that this was not so in the West. In "yo" there must be "in," and in "in," "yo." This adds breadth and softness, "haba" he calls it.

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1 1900 through 1915

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