…words should hold interest; the melody should be attractive; points of concentrated interest should be enacted with strong visual appeal.
When all these elements come together at once,
the entire audience is enchanted.

Why Noh and Intermedia

Six centuries ago, the co-creator of Noh Theater, its greatest playwright and theorist, Zeami, linked plays' success to the cultivation and the 'coming together' of text, visuals and music. Today, the expressive interaction of these three layers might be called intermedia. Whereas the individual artistic elements of Noh have been studied extensively, the interaction between them not nearly as much. This project is intended to contribute to the understanding and appreciation of Noh by narrowing this gap. It offers in-depth intermedia analysis of two Plays, introductions to Elements of Noh, and a general discussion about Noh as intermedia.

The authors wish to express deepest gratitude to our collaborators and most importantly to the Kongō School of Noh for partnering with the project.

Plays

These pages feature complete recordings and the in-depth interemdia analysis of two contrasting plays.

Hashitomi

Third category, Woman or “Wig” play, Hashitomi, enfolds the viewers in a tender dream-like world of the female protagonist, a spirit of young Lady Yūgao appearing as a flower and reminiscing about her romantic encounter with Prince Genji.

Kokaji

Fifth category, Final or Demon play, Kokaji, features two male characters, the swordsmith Munechika and a powerful deity from the Inari Shrine as they work together to produce a mighty blade for the Emperor Ichijō.

Elements

The following pages offer introductions to the formal design of Noh, and the building blocks of individual media layers.

Form

Summarizes the classical formal design and explains its modular (shōdan) construction.

Actors

Lists the categories of actors and their roles in Noh.

Music

Includes information about vocal styles, instrumental sounds, rhythmic organization and a catalog of nohkan patterns.

Movement

Introduces principle dance forms, and analyzes shimai dances from Hashitomi and Kokaji.

Text

Introduces categories of text and presents libretti of Hashitomi and Kokaji in Romaji transliteration and English translation.

Staging

Discusses the use of the Noh stage, masks, costumes and properties.

This website was developed in cooperation with the Japanese Performing Arts Research Consortium. We would like to invite our readers to visit also an affiliated website 'Nōgaku.'