Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Moon Over the Ruined Castle - Japanese Folk Music

Following yesterday's post with what I think is the definitive Japanese folk tune, Sakura Sakura, I'd like to present to you another favorite.

Today's song is called, "The Moon over the Ruined Castle"

The Japanese name for this extremely well known song is Kojo no Tsuki. From Wikipedia:

"Kōjō no Tsuki" (荒城の月 lit. "The Moon over the Ruined Castle") is a Japanese song written in the Meiji period.

Japanese pianist and composer Rentarō Taki composed the music as a music lesson song without instrumental accompaniment in 1901. The song was included in the songbook for Junior High School students. The music of the song was inspired by the ruins of Oka Castle (ja) built in 1185. The lyrics were written by Bansui Doi, who came from Sendai. The lyric of the song was inspired by the ruins of Aoba Castle and Aizuwakamatsu Castle.
Taki's original version of the song is a B minor song, but Kosaku Yamada's slow-paced nostalgic D minor version is also popular as an accompanied song. Taki's original version of the song uses E♯ on the second bar, but the modern version usually uses E probably because the original version did not fit the traditional Japanese music.

Japanese tenor singer Yoshie Fujiwara put his singing of the song on a record in 1925. He was the first Japanese singer to popularize the song throughout the world.

A jazz arrangement was recorded by Thelonious Monk under the title "Japanese Folk Song" on his 1967 album Straight, No Chaser.

The song was sung and recorded live in the form of a power ballad by the German heavy metal band Scorpions, during a concert at the Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo. It was released on their 1978 live album Tokyo Tapes. The band's version was one of rare tracks following Taki's original version quite well.[2] This Song was also performed by Yngwie Malmsteen during the 1984 Alcatrazz Japan Tour. A live recording of his performance at the Sun Plaza Tokyo was released on the "Metallic Live" DVD of Alcatrazz.


Andrew Joseph said...

I know the Monk version very well... great song, Mike!

Anonymous said...

I'm really amused with Japan's culture,so as the stories it tell. Very beautiful. thank you for sharing this :)

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