New Okinawan Music New Okinawan Music
In 1990, thanks to the emergence of artists such as Kina Shokichi's Champoloos and the Rinken Band, Okinawan music came to the attention of the world music scene. Since then Okinawan music has diversified by exploring new facets of music. Let's explore these facets of New Okinawan music, which has a basis in music started in the 1800's.
New Okinawan Music

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). Particularly in the 1990's, the younger Okinawan musicians drew the attention of the World Music scene by creating Okinawan Pops. New Okinawan Music covers a wide range of styles and is difficult to define precisely. For the most part we refer to it as the recent music made by the younger musicians coming out of the traditional culture of Okinawa. Overall there is an amazing diversity of 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.

The New Okinawan Music mentioned here is from musicians who have incorporated Okinawan elements in their songs, not those who are simply from Okinawa or write songs related to Okinawa. The Okinawan elements referred to use the traditional Ryukyuan music scale, and exhibit a background of Okinawa's history and society.

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.

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.

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. Recently there have been many bands bringing in Rap and Hardcore Rock influences such as Indian Hai, Mongol 800 and Jigokusha.

Photo : Hiroshi Shimabukuro (STUDIO PLANET)