Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Okinawan Music is a Mix of Both Folk and Pop in Many Cases

The term New Okinawan Music indicates a genre that started to gain vitality around the end of WWII and emerged after Shimauta (Island folk songs). Especially during the 1990's though when the younger generation of Okinawan musicians drew the attention of the World Music scene by creating the genre called Okinawan Pops. New Okinawan Music covers a wide range of styles and is difficult to define precisely. Recently I received comments about classifying Rimi Natsukawa's covers of Shimauta as Minyo. I guess when it comes right down to it it would be Okinawan pop even though it is based on somewhat on folk music and Shimauta. For the most part we refer to the more recent music made by the younger musicians as being Okinawan pop but it is still based on their strong ties to the traditional culture of Okinawa much as Okinawan folk music. Overall there is an amazing amount of diversity and styles covered by these young musicians. It is a distinctive and original mix of influences from the world's jazz, pops, rock, 60's style folk music, country and Latin music laid on a foundation of traditional Okinawan music.

New Okinawan Music is now created by musicians who have incorporated Okinawan elements into their music. This does not mean they only sing songs about Okinawa but means that they use the elements of music that they have been exposed to as they grew up. American music has been a great influence on them as has Japanese pop so just because they may be from Okinawa does not mean they will limit their creativity to Okinawa specific materials. Still we see many elements of their culture incorporated into this new form of Okinawan Music. One of my favorite songs in this category is "Kizuna" by Orange Range which I feel embodies the modern spirit of the Okinawan people. There are still cultural ties that will draw these musicians to create songs like this even though they also play more modern music. Many songs still express Okinawan elements referred to use the traditional Ryukyuan music scale, and exhibit a background of Okinawa's history and society in their composition.

Musicians such as the Rinken Band, Shokichi Kina's Champloos, the Ne Nes, and Yukito Ara and Pasha Club utilize Okinawan scale in their music, were raised in homes with a lot of exposure to Okinawan music or had parents active in the traditional music scene. Still others that have incorporated the cultural background came out of the Koza rock scene near the military bases in the 1970's. They include musicians such as Murasaki and Condition Green which were some of my favorites during my time in Okinawa. Here is a video I put together because of their influence.

The definition of New Okinawan music also includes such people as those emigrants overseas before the war whose children grew up with influences from Okinawa and those who convey a longing for their roots in Okinawa. A good example of this is Diamantes.

The new music also encompasses the 60's style folk music that expresses the realistic side of Okinawa, an example of which would be Yutaka Sadoyama and the Okinawa Folk Mura.

The great difficulty in defining the actual edges of New Okinawan Music is that currently there is so much being created today with basic Okinawan elements. Some that might be hard to distinguish but are there none the less. So please don't take offense if someone misclassifies Okinawan music because as Okinawa's music becomes more and more worldly it is transforming the boundaries of Okinawa's music. Appreciate it for what it is and enjoy the cultural aspects that are being blended to affect people throughout the world in positive ways.

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