Composing Japanese Musical Modernity

Composing Japanese Musical Modernity

Bonnie C. Wade

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9780226085210

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


When, in the second half of the nineteenth century, Japanese leaders put into motion processes of modernization, Western music was adopted into the curriculum of a new educational system as a technology for producing shared cultural space for all Japanese people. As the infrastructures of modernity developed, a new role of composer apart from performer was created to meet the needs that emerged in education, industry and commerce (Part 1). The absorption of Western music in Japan did indeed create an environment of shared cultural space— shared internally by all Japanese people including those who have continued to cultivate traditional musical practices (albeit marginalized), and also shared internationally as Japanese composers have increasingly benefitted from, participated in, and contributed to global cosmopolitan culture (Part 2). The particular nature of the reception in Japan of European spheres of musical participation— orchestras, small ensembles for chamber and contemporary music, wind bands, and choruses--has afforded composers a variety of opportunities to create repertoire for musicians both professional and amateur (Part 3). Although the role of composer was new, based on primarily ethnographic research this book argues that most Japanese composers have maintained a socially relational role in their society as performer-composers previously did, as they respond with artistic flexibility to expectations of Japanese musical modernity.