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Title: Yōkyoku  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Noh, Japanese styles of music, Vocal music
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


The radiobroadcast of Yōkyoku, 1930s

Yōkyoku (謡曲), also called utai (), is an integral part of the traditional Noh theatre in Japan. The name refers to the vocal section of the music associated with classical Noh drama. Yōkyoku is sung by the chorus and rarely by the other actors. It usually consists of references to classical texts or Buddhist sutras and are composed in groups of five and seven syllables.

These vocalizations, as well as the performance of accompanying instruments, help to produce a multitude of supernatural and celestial sounds that are intrinsic to the Noh music genre.

It has two basic styles:

  • Kotoba: words/heightened speech
  • Fushi: melody


  • Frederic, Louis (2002). "Japan Encyclopedia." Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
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