The Gei of Geisha: Music, Identity, and Meaning [E] -LINKS NEED UPDATING WHEN RELEVANT THREAD IS UP

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shira
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The Gei of Geisha: Music, Identity, and Meaning [E] -LINKS NEED UPDATING WHEN RELEVANT THREAD IS UP

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:40 am

NAME: Fuyou



The Gei of Geisha: Music, Identity, and Meaning
Kelly M. Foreman
ISBN: 978-0754658573
amazon link

The Gei of Geisha discusses in depth the relationship geisha have to the arts that define them. While the majority of the books on geisha tend to focus in the anthropological field, the history, and especially the salacious aspects of their profession, Foreman's research was primarily in the enthnomusicological field. The book, less than 150 pages long, covers their standard repetoires and training, both large and small scale performances, their place in professional art society, their relationship with patronage, and the topic of iki.

The introduction deals with the standard stereotypes of geisha (with emphasis on the prostitute stereotype and submissive stereotype), and dismisses the notion that geisha are entertainers-who-use-art, as opposed to being artists-who-entertain. The repetoire and training chapter explains briefly the various genres of shamisen music that geisha will play and the daily process of learning these different genres. The large and small scale performances maps out how the annual odori and various recitals are created and take place, as well as everything that goes into ozashiki performances. The chapter dealing with their place in the art world deals with how they are viewed by professional artists and how geisha differ from them. The relationship with patronage deals with danna, but focuses on the actual patronage aspect as opposed to any sexual relationships, and the final chapter deals with both the iki of geisha themselves as well as the iki of the music they play.

I rank this book as one of the top three books on geisha that I've ever read. It's incredibly well documented, well written, and answers so many questions I've had about life in the karyukai. I have a much better understanding of how the Odori are created, what exactly geisha study, and how it is studied. This book works perfectly in tandem with Dalby's Geisha, and in fact Foreman quoted Dalby often, making referencing between them quite easy. Despite how short the book is, it's packed with information. I have bookmarks on useful information on practically every other page. The one potential defect with the book, one that the author pointed out herself, was that this book was meant primarily for readers who have a strong background in music. There are a couple places in the book where the author goes a little heavy in music construction, but overall it didn't detract from my understanding. This is a must read book.

Recommended for-
Those interested in geisha life
Those interested in traditional art and music
Those interested in learning more about the structures and processes of the various traditional dance and music Schools

Not Recommended for-
Those who want a detailed history the geisha profession
Those who are not interested in the musical aspects of the geisha profession
Those who want to learn more about controversial aspects of the geisha profession (like mizuage and the potential sexual relationship between geisha and danna)
Those who want to learn about the fashion aspects of the geisha image

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shira
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Re: The Gei of Geisha: Music, Identity, and Meaning [E] -LINKS NEED UPDATING WHEN RELEVANT THREAD IS UP

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:41 am

NAME: Iyolin


matsukaze wrote a few sentences in this thread about it, but not a formal review, if someone else wanted to read another comment about it.
matsukaze wrote:Alright, my review is short and sweet.

The author is an ethno-musicologist. That basically means she combines sociology, anthropology, and music study into her research.

This book was a tough read because it reads like a thesis. As a college student, it was like reading something for class. It wasn't like reading a story, that is for certain. Very very academic.

However, I learned SOOO much, and I will make every effort to spread my new knowledge here.

She comes from the pure perspective of geisha as artist, rather than entertainer of man. It is difficult to describe, but the way I see maiko and geiko is different now. I feel like I understand their identities as artist-entertainers better, I understand their lifestyles and commitments and passions better now.

So it is a worthwhile read for information and changing the way you see geiko, albeit a very academic read.


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shira
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Re: The Gei of Geisha: Music, Identity, and Meaning [E] -LINKS NEED UPDATING WHEN RELEVANT THREAD IS UP

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:42 am

NAME: Mayu


Excellent, thank you so much for this review! I'm quite interested in reading it, now.
It is interesting what a different perspective of geisha this takes on! Most people focus on the controversial elements of geisha life, but it would be fascinating to learn about their musical studies and training.
I hope I can order a copy soon!

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Re: The Gei of Geisha: Music, Identity, and Meaning [E] -LINKS NEED UPDATING WHEN RELEVANT THREAD IS UP

Post by shira » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:42 am

NAME: Fuyou



Ah, I didn't realize there was already a review. I thought it was strange no one had talked about this book yet.

matsukaze's review is also accurate, it is very academic. It's not the sort of book you sit down next to a cozy fire with, Foreman kept it all very professional. I just graduated from college, so I'm used to dry, academic reads and found most of the book enjoyable (especially the discussions on Odori construction and cultural liminas). But the review of what makes certain genres of music iki was the hardest part for me to get through, with discussions about perfect fifths and diaphony. But despite the heavy reading, this little book is definitely worth the money spent. It has the sort of information that is lacking in every other book on geisha, and it really does change a person's persective on how they view geisha.

And to answer Toshiha's question in the other thread, there's no discussion whatsoever on kitsuke or kimono, save in the intro when it dispels stereotypes (and later when she talks about how expensive the kimono are, in a larger discussion about a geisha's yearly expenses).

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