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I've been learning a little about Japanese musical scales, including miyako-bushi, the scale for Sakura Sakura. I've found some useful information about how the scale works, but I'd also like to understand what the phrase miyako-bushi actually means. I did find this link, with readings for the 4 Kanji. 節 can mean "melody", which makes sense, and 音can mean sound, likewise, and 階 stair, which seems apt for a scale. But 都? Metropolis, capital? Capital scale? Am I on the right track?

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    It's miyako, not miyaku. And the literal meanings are all pretty well as they appear. I don't think it's as deep as you're expecting. The capital city is something like a metaphor for the empire; this scale is simply the scale of the dominant musical style of the land. And you could have e.g. looked up 音階 separately and found that it's indeed the standard term for a scale. Commented May 16 at 7:37
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    Karl, Thank you. That looks like an answer to me: do you want to make it into one?. I'll fix the spelling. Commented May 16 at 7:48

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These references say that Uehara Rokushirō (上原六四郎) coined the terms 都節 and 田舎節. He contrasted the two suggesting that music popular in urban (miyako) areas of Japan had half tones, while rural (inaka) music didn't.

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  • Arigato gozaimasu! Commented May 19 at 23:27

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