Context and change in Japanese music

Authored by: Alison McQueen Tokita , David W. Hughes

The Ashgate Research Companion to Japanese Music

Print publication date:  October  2008
Online publication date:  February  2017

Print ISBN: 9780754656999
eBook ISBN: 9781315172354
Adobe ISBN: 9781351697613


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Increasingly, the common view of Japan as a mono-cultural, mono-ethnic society, whether in modern or ancient times, is being challenged (denoon et al. 1996). The category ‘Japan’ itself has been questioned by many (for example Amino 1992; Morris-Suzuki 1998). Amino insists that when discussing the past we should talk not about Japan or the Japanese people, but about people who lived in the Japanese archipelago. If Japan itself is not a solid entity, neither can its musical culture be reduced to a monolithic entity. If the apparently simple label ‘music of Japan’ might refer to any music to be found in Japan, then the phrase ‘music of the Japanese’ would cover any music played or enjoyed by the Japanese, assuming we can talk with confidence about ‘the Japanese’. The phrase ‘Japanese music’ might include any music that originated in Japan. This book would ideally cover all such possibilities, but must be ruthlessly selective. It takes as its main focus the musical culture of the past, and the current practices of those traditions as transmitted to the present day. A subsidiary aim is to assess the state of research in Japanese music and of research directions. The two closing chapters cover Western-influenced popular and classical musics respectively.

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