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joruri

in Japanese literature and music, a type of chanted recitative that came to be used as a script in bunraku puppet drama. Its name derives from the Jorurihime monogatari, a 15th-century romantic tale, the leading character of which is Lady Joruri. At first it was chanted to the accompaniment of the four-string biwa (Japanese lute); with the introduction of the three-stringed, plucked samisen (or shamisen) from the Ryukyu Islands in the 16th century, both the music and the scripts became more complex. When puppets were added at the end of the 16th century, the joruri expanded to add a dramatic quality not present in the first simple recitatives. Themes of loyalty, vengeance, filial piety, love, and religious miracles were included; dialogue and descriptive commentary took an increasingly large role. The chanter was at first more important than the writer of the script, until the appearance of one of Japan's greatest playwrights, Chikamatsu Monzaemon, in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. A 30-year collaboration between Chikamatsu and the chanter Takemoto Gidayu (1651-1714) raised the puppet theatre to a high art. Gidayu himself became so famous that his style, gidayu-bushi ("Gidayu music"), became nearly synonymous with joruri.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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