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Johakyū (序破急)

A performance theory in Noh and kyōgen that divides the structure, performance and speed of plays into three segments. They are said to include stories from gagaku and to have been present even during the highpoint of Noh. Jo, or “beginning,” refers to the introductory portion of the play, ha, to the middle portion in which the story unfolds, and kyū to the denouement. The performance is slower and quieter during the jo, gradually gains tempo in the ha, and becomes even more energetic during the kyū. Other elements of the play including the order of the chants and the speed of the Hashigakari also follow the Johakyū structure, with the tempo always gradually increasing. Even the day’s playlist conforms to Johakyū, a testament to its broad importance in the world of Nohgaku.

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