3. Comprehensive research on staging and performance techniques in the Noh theatre
Leaders: TAKAKUWA Izumi, YAMANAKA Reiko
Reports on the activities of research projects for 2018
As early performance materials are transcribed and made public, other approaches can be used to study the history of changes in noh techniques and performance practices. This project involves collaboration with specialists in many fields, from robotics to acoustic engineering, to study noh movements and instrumental music. For several years, research has focused on the transmission of artistic techniques. Findings have been presented at international conferences.
･ NAKATSUKA Yukiko, FUKAZAWA Nozomi, and YAMANAKA Reiko completed a transcription of “The Secret Book of Noh” in the Institute’s collection, one of the oldest manuals for waki actors. After checking draft transcription, a finalized version will be put online.
･ An interdisciplinary joint research project led by NAKAGAWA Shinobu (Professor, Osaka University of Arts) collaborated with experts in robotics, acoustic engineering, and movement analysis to study noh’s center of gravity, movements, and the relation between music and movements. After tests carried out at Yoyogi and Yarai noh theatres (Aug. 8, 21), discussions were held with noh actors. A hearing with hayashi instrumentalists (Nov. 15) was followed by study groups (Dec. 8–9).
･ YAMANAKA Reiko and YOKOYAMA Tarō presented a session titled “Theatre Traditions in Transition” at an international conference held in English at Tel Aviv University (details on the another page).
･ Musical scores for the noh flute and scores for the shoulder, hip, and stick drum, together with learners’ certificates and other materials belonging to the late Shimada Mikuma, a Issō school flautist, were presented to the Institute by his family. A provisional catalogue will be made as soon as the items are sorted and studied.
Reports on the activities of research projects for 2017
To study changes in noh techniques and performance practices through written records, use has been made of methodology from sports sciences and cultural anthropology to research the acquisition and transmission of physical gestures. This yearʼs project involves a variety of activities, including joint research with a robotics specialist, revival of a kyōgen play, and help to an American researcher analyzing noh music. August 24. Research into waza (technique) transmission. Analysis of results of last yearʼs experiments and interview with the subject. Study of communication during the transmission of artistic techniques, of the awareness of the person moving and actual movements.
October 7. Open Seminar and Workshop, “Laughter in Kyōgen: Past and Presentʼʼ (details on p. 3). Revival of the kyōgen play Kakuregasa. Text edited by NAKATSUKA Yukiko based on scripts in the Kōzan Bunko and Noh Theatre Research Institute. Performed by ŌKURA Noriyoshi and others. Nakatsuka is preparing a paper on how the points of humor differ from similar pieces and on historical changes.
October 28. Inaugural meeting of a sponsored research project led by NAKAGAWA Shinobu (Osaka University of Arts) on “Using ‘user experience designʼ to apply the techniques and contents of traditional Japanese performing arts to advanced robotics.ʼʼ This interdisciplinary study involves robotics and many other fields: phonetics, VR, animation, noh, bunraku, psychology, and the study of masks.
March 12, 2018. Symposium scheduled: “How Are Artistic Techniques Transmitted, from Mind to Mind and Body to Bodyʼʼ A related exhibition on “The World of Noh Documents: Tracing the Transmission of Artistic Techniquesʼʼ held in Boissonade Tower (14th floor), Hosei University (Feb. 2 to March 24). Workshops was held on Feb. 28 and March 12 on the notation of noh dances in the Taishō period. Details in the next issue.
Reports on the activities of research projects for 2016
This research focuses on the process of how Noh performance and production were established, by reproducing old documents on Noh production and publishing them. This year, a new sports scientific approach was adopted to examine how body movements and actions are learned and passed on. Major activities include the followings:
Based on the results of “A dynamic grasp of the transmission of kata in modern Noh: from the perspective of comparative theater” (by YOKOYAMA Taro) a Collaborative Research through Open Recruitment project conducted until last year, techniques of sports science to measure and analyze body movements and actions have been utilized. Experiments were conducted on: 1) communication used to teach Noh body movements and actions (how the ways of teaching affect actual movements); and 2) the relationship between the actor’s awareness and actual movement. The preliminary experiment (Aug. 2) and the main experiment (Sept. 2) were both conducted on the stage of the Tessenkai Nohgaku Training Institute.
An article on the old forms of jibyōshi (rhythm) inherited from souka (songs popular among the nobility, samurai and Buddhist monks) by TAKAKUWA Izumi was published in the journal Noh and Kyogen No. 14 as an outcome of the study group on deciphering a handwritten book on Noh hayashi (music) during the medieval Sengoku period (Keicho 12-nen Futami Tadataka Okugaki Sengokuki Hayashi Densho).
Reports on the activities of research projects for 2015
This project seeks to describe the process by which the staging and performance techniques of Noh and their vocabulary became established, while providing typographical reprints of materials documenting historical staging for public use. Following on from last year’s publication of an annotated typographical reprint of the Akita Jōnosuke katatsuke (Tōhoku University Library), this year we will edit a volume on katatsuke centering on the November 2014 reconstruction of Kagetsu mentioned above, which used the Akita Jōnosuke katatsuke. In autumn we will hold a symposium on the reconstruction of historical staging with the cooperation of the Japanese Society for Theatre Research, taking the opportunity to present in some form our findings on notation for the kotsuzumi in the 1607 hayashi notations of Futami Tadataka. While it differs significantly from modern notation, certain patterns appear frequently, and it appears likely to give us new insights on the relationship between the voice and percussion parts. Finally, in cooperation with Wakayama City, we are cooperating with Noh performers in the reconstruction of the Kishū-jishi (lion dance) of the early-Edo Kishū domain (Wakayama). We have launched a series of research meetings, and are planning to record a version of the reconstruction in the coming year.
Into the second year of our activities
This project seeks to describe the process by which the staging and technique of noh and its vocabulary were established, while at the same time advancing the transcription and circulation of materials documenting historical staging. This year we have followed up last year’s seminar by holding another, new seminar. Moreover, based on the results of last year’s research on kotsuzumi drum materials from the Sekiguchi family and also drawing on materials from the Yamazaki family collection now held by Nohken, we are planning experimental performances using kotsuzumi frames.
• The “Blocking Notes of the Lord of Akita ” in the Tōhoku University Library
Continuing from last year, we have been drawing up research articles centered on each of our respective interests, while holding intensive seminars to check transcriptions and discuss editorial policies, with an eye to eventual publication of our results. From the summer on we will be starting collaborative research with performers, in preparation for the symposium to be held in November. The aim is to reconstruct the movements of the shité for an entire noh play based directly on these blocking notes.
• Reconstructing Kotsuzumi Scores Based on Noh Orchestra Materials from Japan’s Age of Civil War
In the “Noh Orchestral Scores of Keichō 12 (1607) with Colophon by Futami Tadataka” acquired a few years ago by Nohken (which seems to preserve traditions from the Eiroku PERIOD, I.E. THE 1560S), A GREAT NUMBER OF SCORES FOR ŌTSUZUMI AND KOTSUZUMI DRUMS ARE GIVEN along with the lyrics to the plays, apparently as they were performed at the time. Starting this year we have begun to work on this source, of which the first half deals with the kotsuzumi. We aim to reconstruct these civil war-era kotsuzumi scores, converting their early medieval-style into eight-beat counts with reference to the methods of the various modern kotsuzumi schools.