Music In Japan Book Review

Submitted By firecell04
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Pages: 4

Book Review

Music in Japan: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture, Bonnie C. Wade, New York Oxford University Press 2005, 2004041486

Music in Japan is one of several case-study volumes apart of the Thinking Musically, Global Music Series. Music in Japan offers a vibrant preface to the music of modern Japan, a nation in which traditional, western, and popular music thrive side by side. Drawing on many years of experience, author Bonnie C. Wade focuses on the major periods of the development of modern music in Japan throughout the book and in the musical selections on the accompanying CD. Music in Japan is enhanced by eyewitness accounts of performances, interviews with key performers, and vivid illustrations. All in all, Wade has provided an exceptionally well balanced book, which will prove useful both in the music classroom and beyond. Wade begins by exploring how music in Japan has been profoundly affected by interface with both the Western and Asian cultural spheres. While most countries achieve their cultural diversity as a result of migrating in, Japan has achieved its musical diversity by seeking it elsewhere. Wade exclaims that the Japanese have a process of borrowing, then assimilating the foreign. This diversity began to develop during Meiji-Period modernization in the late 1800’s. This diversity expanded before, between, and after the great world wars. Through this intermingling of cultures, the music of the west became an intricate part of Japanese culture. When considering the interface of Japanese music with other Asian cultural spheres, many traditions remained intact during the transitional periods. Wade explains how the musical cultures of China and Korea have influenced Japan since ancient times. This is most prevalent in rites, rituals and ceremonies in Japan. The traditional music of Japan calls for instruments of their native land. The book includes many illustrations of instruments, dances and costumes used for these traditional events. Wade then shows how Japan's thriving popular music industry is also a modern form of a historically important facet of Japanese musical culture: the process of gradual popularization, in which a local or a group's music eventually becomes accessible to a broader range of people. Being initially trained in western classical music, Japanese artist began to form ensembles that utilized the standard orchestral format. Eventually composers emerged releasing their original compositions for orchestra. Beyond original classical composition, palace and temple music gained a new depth. Ensembles using traditional Japanese instruments that were commonly utilized in the palace and temple developed a new sound. In addition to traditional and western classical art, Wade explains how Japanese popular music gained its own identity. Westernized pop music is called kayōkyoku, which is said to have and first appeared in a dramatization of Resurrection by Tolstoy. Kayōkyoku became a major industry in the early twentieth century. In the 1950’s, tango and other kinds of Latin music, especially Cuban music, became very popular in Japan. In the 1960s, Japanese bands imitated The Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, along with other Appalachian folk music, psychedelic rock, and similar genres. John Lennon of The Beatles later became one of most popular Western musicians in Japan. From this period of popular music, Wade then goes on to explain J-Pop. J-pop, an abbreviation for Japanese pop, is a loosely defined musical genre