Modern Noh as a Document of Oral Transmission
Lead Researcher: SAKAMOTO Kiyoe
Member: ISHII Tomoko, TAKAKUWA Izumi
Noh is usually understood as a medieval performing art, and indeed, archaic pronunciations no longer used in the modern day can be heard in noh as currently performed. However, these pronunciations do not record medieval orality as it was, but rather have been through phonemic shifts both in Japanese pronunciation as a whole and transformations unique to noh. Even comparing noh and kyōgen the auditory transmission has occurred differently, so that noh, which has musical notation in its libretti, transmits older sound patterns. Moreover, Edo-period practice manuals for noh make a noticeable effort to preserve features like the distinctions between zi and di, zu and du, or between open and closed long o, which are essentially lost in modern times. Nevertheless, since noh developed with the dialect of the Home Provinces around Nara and Kyoto as its pronunciation infrastructure, in the schools that did not move to Edo in early modernity one can still sometimes hear features like she for se or je for ze. This research has as its object the clarification from a linguistic perspective of the possibilities which modern noh holds as an oral documentary record of Japanese linguistic development, as well as the elucidation of noh pronunciation and the vicissitudes of its transmission. Concretely, in order to clarify the degree to which present-day noh reflects the phonemic repertoire of medieval Japanese, we analyze factors such as the conditions of transmission of the phonemes, he differences in phonemic transmission among different schools of noh, and differences according to the region of transmission.
The purpose of this research is to augment the study of Japanese linguistics by adding the perspectives of Japanese music and the history of Nohgaku In doing so, it will also uncover possibilities in Nohgaku as a source of information on Japanese oral tradition. To that end, it is necessary to ascertain the extent to which present-day Nohgaku faithfully reflects the medieval Japanese phonological system. This research was carried out with a focus on phonological differences between the traditional schools of Nohgaku.
Specifically, masters of Nohgaku and the associated comedic performance art of Kyogen were asked to comment on actual performance and pronunciation. An examination and analysis were also made of works written by Zeami in his own hand, guides to the practice of utai (Nohgaku chant), Nohgaku librettos of every historical period, and Kyogen scripts.
The following findings were the result:
1. In Nohgaku, the liaison (renjo) and entering tone (nissho) that are distinctive in utai are pronounced as plosive nasals. This is not due to transmission of phonemes just as they were in the medieval Japanese language. Rather, the liaison and other distinctive pronunciations were systematically adopted in utai in order to retain phonemic distinctions that the Japanese language was losing over time, such as between vowels with “o” sounds lengthened by syneresis, and between the four consonants referred to as the yotsugana.
2. Words written using the same Chinese character in different librettos may be pronounced using the “Wu dynasty” (go-on) reading or the “Han dynasty” (kan-on) reading of that character. Such differences in pronunciation are not based on differences between schools of Nohgaku (which share a common body of works), but rather constitute differences between works.
3. For the examination of euphonic changes (onbin), comparisons were made of the euphonic change usages in utai across the various schools and in Kyogen between the Nomura family of the Izumi school and the Shigeyama family of the Okura school. It appears likely that the euphonic change usages in the Nomura family are closer to the 14th-16th centur (Muromachi period) patterns in the former capital area of Kyoto and Osaka.
4. In the present day, none of the schools practice utai in a way that reflects the accent notations written in goma-sho (sesame text), or libretto text written with dot-like markings referred to as sesame points along the side of the characters. The sesame points are indicators of accent and other properties of text as recitation. The fact that the utai does not follow the accent notations of the sesame text means that the utai does not maintain the same melody that was there at the time of composition. The melody does not reflect the accents that obtained when the utai was composed. However, there are also librettos set to music using notations other than sesame text that preserve the accents of the Kyoto-Osaka region.
坂本清恵「近世期における「つめる」「のむ」―四つ仮名、舌内入声音、連声の注記をめぐって―」『論集』Ⅸ アクセント史資料研究会 2013年12月
坂本清恵 発表「謡における特殊音節」能楽学会 第13回大会 2014年6月22日
坂本清恵 講演 「定家仮名遣いの継承」日本女子大学文学部・文学研究科学術交流企画「定家がもたらしたもの―文字と仮名遣い―」2015年3月14日 於成瀬記念講堂
高桑いづみ 講演「明治以前の謡とアクセント」東京文化財研究所無形文化遺産部第10回公開学術講座「邦楽の旋律とアクセント－中世から近世へ－」2015年12月18日 於東京国立博物館平成館大講堂
坂本清恵 講演「近世邦楽のアクセント」東京文化財研究所無形文化遺産部第10回公開学術講座「邦楽の旋律とアクセント－中世から近世へ－」2015年12月18日 於東京国立博物館平成館大講堂
1. Pronunciation in performance practice: Interviews and documentation
With a view to clarifying differences in pronunciation between the schools、we undertook interviews centering on the texts of the plays Eguchi and Morihisa, which survive in Zeami holographs, with HŌSHŌ Kan (Shimogakari Hōshō school), KOMPARU Yasuaki (Komparu school), and KONGŌ Hisanori (Kongō school). Interviews undertaken last academic year have been transcribed for documentation purposes.
2. Database of unusual readings in utaibon
To facilitate a systematic survey of how pronunciations are transmitted within each school, we began construction of a database of annotations on pronunciation in modern utaibon, beginning with the Hōshō-school Tabi no tomo, since this school is thought to preserve old pronunciations.
3. Progress of the research
It has become clear, through historical surveys of Zeami’s holographs, manuals on utai from the Edo period, and utaibon, that the renjō (liaison or sandhi) and other distinctive phonological characteristics of utai are phenomena that developed during the history of Noh, rather than simply fossilized versions of medieval pronunciation. They were adopted consciously, as a way of distinguishing the pronunciation of Noh texts from ordinary pronunciation, thus giving it a feeling of historical venerability. Moreover, variation in the on-yomi (Chinese readings) of words written in Chinese characters, that is between the older go-on readings and the newer kanon readings, is related less to differences in school than to differences in the transmission of individual plays. We have also verified that the Hōshō school tends to preserve older versions in the case of words that were pronounced with voiced consonants in medieval times but are now pronounced with unvoiced consonants.