A complete recording of Shunnoden Ichigu The Nightingale Sings of Spring.
A central classic of Gagaku.
Gagaku was derived from the music and dancing forms of several parts of ancient Asia. Some of these forms which flourished under the rich Tang Dynasty civilization of China were, along with those of neighboring areas, brought to Japan in the Eighth Century.
Gagaku is today maintained by the Imperial Household Agency's Court Music Bureau and has two modes of performance. One, kangen --music performed without the dance-- somewhat resembles a Western orchestra. The other mode, bugaku, consists of court dances and accompanying music. Kangen and bugaku utilize the same repertoire, but use different instrumental groupings and performance techniques.
"Shunnoden," or the song of the nightingale, is said to have been composed during the reign of Tang Dynasty Emperor Genso. Since its introduction and rearrangement in Japan, this piece has held a high position in bugaku concert programs. Though "Shunnoden" is regarded as reflecting the finest glow of ancient Asiatic civilization, the difficulty of playing all its movements adequately in succession has long kept it from enjoying popular acclaim. Thus, the complete content of this masterpiece still remains all but unknown to the general public.