The Japanese nagauta style of singing is used to accompany the well-known Japanese dance theater of kabuki. The songs are mainly accompanied by a shamisen player, as well as two percussionists and two flutists. The shamisen is a three-stringed lute that came from China sometime in the middle of the 16th century through the Ryûkyû Islands (today's Okinawa Islands). At the beginning, the shamisen was used to accompanied singers, in a style called jiuta. In the 17th century, in Edo (today's Tokyo), musicians started to use it to sing long dramatic narratives called Edo nagauta. At that time, kabuki theater started to use a shamisen ensemble to accompany dances and developed the nagauta style of singing, which quickly became the typical style of kabuki singing.
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AllMusic Review by Bruno Deschênes