ISSN: 20570341
First published in 2016
2 issues per volume
Volume 2 Issue 2
Cover Date: August 2017
Constructing the singing voice: Vocal style, aesthetics and the body in Okinawan music
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Authors:  Matt Gillan 
DOI: 10.1386/jivs.2.2.103_1

Okinawa,vocal pedagogy,voice training,cultural identity,nature,Japan

Japan’s southernmost prefecture of Okinawa has a thriving traditional music culture that has become popular throughout the country, and has also become the basis for a more modern Okinawan pop music scene. Most Okinawan musical genres strongly emphasize vocal technique – vocal timbre, inflection and ornamentation are all singled out as being cultural markers that differentiate Okinawan genres from each other and from the vocal music of the Japanese mainland. Vocal techniques have long been theorized and mediated through both written and verbal aesthetic discourses, and the voice continues to be a way that regional identities, lineage affiliations and other aspects of Okinawan society are negotiated. In this article I draw on fifteen years as a researcher and performer of Okinawan folk and classical vocal traditions, as well as recent recorded interviews with performers and music producers, to analyse how these discourses function, and how they have interacted with changes in performance practice since the early twentieth century.
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