Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/28

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18
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

telligible, to our untutored ears; but we soon become familiar with the plaintive notes of the koto or the sonorous vibrations of the samisen, and learn to both recognize and appreciate the quaint minor harmonies and softly worded melody of some love song, or so-fu-ren.

As I have already had occasion to mention, the dramatic or operatic poems are sung with the accompaniment of the samisen, while the historical poems, or utai, find a musical accompaniment only when recited on the stage, and then flute and drums are the instruments used. The dramatization of the utai upon the stages is a very ancient custom, and can only be appreciated by the better educated classes. Correctly speaking, is a historical

PSM V43 D028 Facsimile of a poem by aritsune.jpg
Facsimile of a Poem by Aritsuné

dance, full of weird mysticisms almost unintelligible to those not conversant with its meaning, but its proper performance is a classic art. It has remained unchanged in the slightest detail for centuries, and through its medium the classic historical poetry of the nation is retained and placed before the appreciative public of the higher class.

Thus the drama and history of the country, so full of heroism and romance, shape themselves into poetry and song. The blending of art with poetry is another feature typical of the Japanese people. There are two purely Japanese schools of art: the one dealing with the minutest details, and the other with the bold and forcible portrayal of impressions and suggestions, rather than details; graceful sketches, rather than detailed drawings. "We