During The Meiji Period Cultural Studies Essay

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During the Meiji period, music took on a direction towards Westernisation (Kishimoto 2012, 9) which can be seen in military music, where the Japanese military band started performing western music (Galliano 2002, 27). This paper examines the authenticity of Japanese music from the Meiji Period onwards. Japan ended its isolation and started westernising after the arrival of Commodore Perry in 1853 (Davison 2009, 7). Following the signing of unequal treaties with the western powers, Japan was convinced of the need to strengthen, and sought to achieve that through westernization. This can be seen even the in context of music after William Fenton, who was in charge of teaching the Western military songs, was appointed as the instructor of the Japanese military band in 1871 (Galliano 2002, 28). Following that, musicians were sent abroad by the Japanese government to study western music. These people played important roles in reshaping the styles of music in Japan. This led to differing interpretations of authentic Japanese music. Some felt that Japanese music lost its uniqueness as traditional music became obsolete. Others saw the superiority in Western music style and realised the inevitable need to adopt western music style. However, did westernisation of Japanese music cause a loss in authenticity? We argue that there is still authenticity in Japanese music despite Westernisation. Even though Japanese music now has a predominant Western form in terms of its use of harmony tonality, it is still relatively distinct from Western music itself, which some termed "Japaneseness" (Atkins 1998, 348).

To explain how Japaneseness or authenticity still exists in Westernised Japanese Music, we argue that the process follows a three-stage mechanism: learning, imitation and transformation. Learning involves musicians going abroad to Western countries to study Western technique in composing and performing music (Davison 2009, 18). In Japan, the promotion of Western music is also evident in the Japanese music education curriculum, where young children learned to appreciate both traditional and western music (Iida 2009, 11-12).

Imitation stage came after the Learning stage where Japanese musicians applied music knowledge that they learned from the West to compose music. This constituted to a period of assimilating Western music into Japanese musical culture (Iida 2009, 67).

Transformation stage took place when Japanese musicians achieved a strong grasp of Western music techniques. In this stage, Japanese musicians brought the originality of music to a whole new level by synthesizing Eastern and Western concepts to create music that is unique to Japan. Creating the 'Japanese spirit' was a key ideology of Japanese composers (Pacun 2012, 5), driving them to create authenticity in their music. However, we want to illustrate that such an ideology is created due to the state interventions in Japanese music, where composers were instructed to create music that adhere to nationalistic goals. Hence, it is impossible to believe only in the positivity of authenticity in Japanese music. Behind the glorious façade of creating Japaneseness in music, some believe that it was a result of the government coercing musicians to create music that promote nationalism and propaganda while other believe that nationalism is a fundamental insult to musicians' freedom in exercising creativity.

1.2 Literature Review

Keywords in our argument are 'authenticity', 'Westernisation', 'harmony', 'tonality' and 'musical style'. Authenticity is formally defined by Oxford as "genuine" and having "undisputed origin". However, this definition is debatable. We believe that in music, it is impossible to find music that does not have "undisputed origin" as all composers seek the work of others for inspiration. Moreover, it is inappropriate to judge creativity and originality based on an undisputable basis. In view of this, we believe that authenticity in music is defined as having a unique identity that distinguishes itself from other types of music.

Westernisation is the process of moving towards a lifestyle similar to the West by assimilating western ideology. With focus on music, Westernisation is the movement towards composing music using western forms of structure, harmony and tonality. This paper will examine in particular, two spheres of influence: American and European. American influence is responsible for the rise of jazz music in Japan. For 'European influence', we will examine how classical style of form and harmony has shaped Japanese musicians in their modern classical compositions. For 'American influence', we will examine on the jazz and fusion music scene in Japan. Ultimately, we hope to analyse and demonstrate how Japanese music in all, be it classical or jazz distinguishes itself from the conventional western music, showing that authenticity in Japanese music remains, though with a new concept.

'Harmony', 'tonality 'and 'musical style' are three basic factors that govern most types of music. "Sounding harmonious" is a key concept for composers, which distinguishes music from noise. However, different musical cultures have different concepts towards "what is harmonious". This paper will cover the differing concepts between traditional Japanese music and Western musical forms, which some argue as conflicting. However, we hope to demonstrate how authenticity in Japanese music cannot be judged solely on harmony, tonality and style. Working on western forms and concepts, Japanese composers actively employed various techniques to create the Japaneseness. This is expressed by Galliano (2002, 32) as a "creation of a new musical culture".

2. 'Learning' Stage

Music education already existed in Japan in the seventh century. (Abdoo 1984, 52).It first started when court music, gagaku, was imported from China (Abdoo 1984, 52) which started the process of imitating music. This form of imitation serves as a type of learning where musicians study the work of previous generation as inspiration for their new compositions (Abdoo 1984, 53). Then in 1879, education in music was emphasised where elementary school teachers and performers were taught the discipline of western music (Abdoo 1984, 52). At that period of time, western music was still purely imitated until the Meiji period. German values were used in music education curriculum till the end of World War II where each region and city is to be responsible for their own music education (Abdoo 1984, 52). Music education is an important milestone in Japan's quest for musical authenticity as prior to creating Japaneseness, it is crucial that musicians grasp the concept of Western music before even thinking of methods to transform it.

2.1 Music Education in Japan

Music education in Japan had three major curriculums, namely the elementary, junior high and college (Abdoo 1984, 53-54). The different curriculums show the extent western music education was emphasized, developed and learned. For example, during the fifth grade, students are expected to study the music history and expression from both Japan and western composers (Abdoo 1984, 53-54). In addition, classroom techniques also followed the style of United States. In the eighth grade, students studied the history and music of western composers such as Claude Debussy and Ludwig Van Beethoven (Abdoo 1984, 53-54). Even though traditional Japanese music was emphasized, western music was still the core curriculum in music learning. Hence, we can conclude that western music was regarded as part of the modernization process, as western music culture enlightened the Japanese to the superiority of Western music.

2.2 Music Education Abroad

After Meiji Restoration brought an end to Japan's policy of isolation (Asai 1995, 429), Japan realized her inferiority not only in terms of status, but also other factors such as technology and culture. As Japanese felt that they were second class to the West (Takenaka 2010, 97), the government sought to find out the reasons behind this phenomenon. To undercover this, the government started funding and sending scholars abroad to study the formula of the West to achieve superpower. Western music was also an area that the Japanese government wanted to study as they believed that Western culture was more superior. Thus, musicians were sent on study trips abroad, mostly to Europe (Galliano 2002, 33), to study Classical music and ultimately to reveal why European music was superior over Japanese traditional music.

2.2.1 Music Education from Europe

Musicians that were sent to Europe were mostly influenced by German and French Music (Galliano 2002, 33). This was a period when musicians studied compositional techniques of European countries and adopted some of these techniques in their own works. 'Obedience' was crucial in Japanese musicians where they started creating works that sounded exactly like those of European masters (Davison 2009, 9). This was necessary as their understanding of Western Classical music was weak and they needed to grasp the concepts confidently before they could manipulate it. However, this indicates the presence of diversity of music, where different composers had different preferences and thus specialised in studying the techniques of different composers. For example, Moroisaburo was interested in German music, and Kienouchi Tomijio, French (Galliano 2002, 33). Hence, this shows that musicians were encouraged to study various musical cultures so as to broaden the scope of musical concepts. Particularly, German music was regarded as the "Cultural symbol of new enlightenment" (Abdoo 1984, 53). All this culminates to the diverse musical culture in Japan today where performances include a wide range of repertoire from various composers. Composers write music of different styles. Even in classical style, Japanese composers adopt the styles of different composers in composing music or even work by synthesise styles to create a whole new style that is unique to Japan.

Particularly, the influence of Beethoven's music on Japanese musicians and with it, German culture, was especially prominent, even today. This is evident during the warring periods when cultural and educational exchanges increased with Germany dramatically (Davison 2009, 3).

2.2.3 Music Education from America

3. 'Imitation' Stage

Imitation and composing of western music by Japanese composers started during Paris World Exposition in 1889 (Sakamoto 2010, 4), where the imitation generally come from romantic and German classical music (Sakamoto 2010, 5). Besides Classical Music, Japanese jazz music was also an area that experienced imitation of the American style.

3.1 Classical Music

European Classical music was one of the pioneer music that was imported into Japan. Many Japanese musicians who were sent abroad returned as violinists and pianists. These musicians began performing European music, thus exposing more Japanese to Classical music, increasing Japanese appreciation for classical music. In addition, composers also started arranging and composing music in Classical style. This is evident in choral folk songs (Pacun 2012, 11). Some traditional Japanese folk tunes were arranged using Western style four-part harmony. For example, Japan's national anthem "Kimi ga yo" was re-arranged from traditional style of Ichikotsu mode to the German Dorian mode (Galliano 2002, 29). Another example is the importation of Western folk songs with lyrics translated into Japanese. These songs are frequently performed by Japanese choirs even today, showing the extent of western choral music in heightening Japanese appreciation of European music and the encouragement for them to assimilate and reproduce these music.

To justify that Japanese musicians promoted Western music and encouraged fellow musicians to adopt European style of music, we shall analyse on two renowned Classical musicians in Japan.

3.1.1 Case Study: Takahiro Sonoda (1928-2004)

Takahiro Sonoda, was born to Kiyohide Sonoda, who was a pianist (Iida 2009, 95). Kiyohide was a musician that went to Paris to learn the Western Classical style. Upon his return to Japan, he taught Takahiro western piano music (Iida 2009, 99). This is an example to show how Western concepts of music are disseminated from one generation to another, thus giving rise to the widespread Western music form in Japan today. Sonoda went on to be a famous pianist who honed his skill in performing classical piano pieces. He is an example to show Japan's period of imitation, where musicians started to practise the western concepts and skills that they have learned. Many musicians like Sonoda, did not become composers but remain as Classical music practitioners as they did not believe in creating a new musical identity for Japan but upholding the conventional classical form. Sonoda criticised the works of composer Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996) as he felt that these works are "unacceptable noise"- works that do not sound musical in a Classical style. However, while non-composers generally adopted Sonoda's approach of strict imitation of Classical music, the period soon gave way to the 'Transformation' stage, where some musicians became confident in their ability to improvise with the Classical music, infusing them with Japaneseness.

3.1.2 Case Study: Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996)

Sonoda and his faction of believers belonged to the group that opposed Japaneseness. However, other musicians felt the need to redefine Western style music with Japanese elements. One such composer was Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996), an internationally renowned Japanese composer. He creates Japaneseness by infusing elements of Japanese culture into his music. Some elements include Japanese philosophy and natural landscape (Sakamoto 2010, 41). Takemitsu was exposed to Jazz music from young by his father, a Jazz lover (Sakamoto 2010, 8). He did not have any interest in music till he came in contact with a French chanson, "Parlez moi d'amour" by the artiste, Lucinenne Boyer during World War two(WWII) (Sakamoto 2010, 10). He was deeply mesmerised by the music which started his path as a musician. After WWII, Takemitsu started studying western composition. He did not appreciate traditional Japanese music as it reminded him of the painful memories of WWII. This led to his pure imitation of western music (Sakamoto 2010, 11-12).

The transformation of Takemitsu's music came about when he was first introduced to John Cage (1912-1992), an American composer who was much influenced by the eastern culture (Sakamoto 2010, 12). Many Japanese composers including Takemitsu were experiencing "Cage Shock"- realisation that infusing traditional elements such as Zen Buddhism into their pieces reflected the true Japanese spirit (Sakamoto 2010, 21). This made the Japanese composers realise that they should make their music unique other than just imitating the western music.

Since, Takemitsu had turned his direction towards chance music where he had composed chance pieces like the "Ring (1961)", "Corona (1962)", and "Dorian Horizon (1966)" These music are truly unique to Japan as it reflects their spirit. He also tried to create music using the sounds of western and Japanese traditional instruments (Sakamoto 2010, 25), hence experimenting the music of two different cultures.

3.2 Jazz Music

4.1 'Transformation' Stage

Significant transformation in Japanese music and the rise of Japanese fusion took place in the 1930s, during pre-war period. Although there were concerns over Western culture hegemonising Japanese identity in music, people's love for Western music was so significant that Western music has become a natural part of Japan's culture (Davison 2009, 31). For example, the influence of German music was significant such that the Meiji government encouraged composers to write music in Beethoven's style as they felt that the themes of Beethoven music were in line with Meiji's nationalistic goals. As Japan got closer to World War II, the conflict between Japan and the West became more severe. Some groups started labelling Western music as "barbarian" (Atkins 1998, 351). Particularly for jazz music, people started referring jazz as "the enemy's music" (Atkins 1998, 354). This resulted in jazz music being banned from performing in public venues (Atkins 1998, 355).

However, the Meiji government also realised that Western music has become a norm in Japan. As such, it was tough to eradicate Western music completely from Japan's culture. Hence, the government allowed musicians to work with western styles but encouraged them to seek methods of infusing Japaneseness into their music by:

A wide range of possibilities for melody and harmony, by using combinations of scales and modes found in traditional music, particularly the minor and pentatonic to emphasize Japanese qualities;

The development of Japanese tonal systems suitable for primarily pentatonic and modal melodies, structured after the type of quartal "harmonies" derived from the vertical tone clusters of the shō in gagaku;

The use of linear, quasi-polyphonic texture similar to the sankyoku and jiuta ensemble music; and

A creative use of instrumental color. (Herd 2004, 44)

This encouragement by the government was widely accepted by many musicians as they agreed it is vital for Japan to have her own identity in music. This is not surprising as creativity is often judged by having originality. The above mentioned points allow composers to challenge their music writing abilities. By incorporating Japaneseness elements into music, Japanese musicians have thus proved themselves capable of being original. At the same time, the primary adoption of western style in writing music showed that Japanese deeply appreciated western culture and the arts. Hence, we can view that the adoption of Western style has benefited Japan in her quest for musical authenticity by challenging them to think of "new concepts of individuality and creative invention" (Galliano 2002, 36). Thus, this shows that a diminishment of traditional music did not mean that Japan has lost her authenticity. Rather, musicians challenged themselves by taking up the daunting task of learning and mastering the musical style and culture of the West and applying fundamental concepts of creativity and originality to write music that branded with their identity. It is important to note here that the stage of transformation is a process of slow evolution that progresses even till today. Also crucial is that the identity of Japanese is ever changing (Mathews 2006, 336). Therefore, the process of creating authenticity can be seen as infinite as Japanese musicians have to constantly rethink of their music and search of new ways to create originality. This is in essence parallel to the concept of creativity, as being creative is to constantly search for new methods in doing things. Therefore, we believe that Japanese music is authentic as musicians constantly practise creativity and originality in writing their music, rather than just merely assimilating Western styles directly.

4. Effects of Nationalism on Musical Authenticity

So far, our paper has dealt with the concern whether or not Japanese music is authentic which careful analysis has shown that Japanese music is indeed unique. However, one might ask why is there a need to pursue authenticity in music? This question is pertinent not only in address towards music but also to culture and ideology of the Japanese. While musicians seems heroic in their quest to create authenticity in their music, it is highly plausible that such an action is a result of coerce. Nationalism is the key factor in affecting lives as the rising tension between Japan and the West fuelled the government to seek methods to instil loyalty and patriotism in her people. Music is a cultural medium that allows the propagation of ideas and thoughts. The influential ability of music is prominent. Take a look at Korean Pop music shows how powerful music can shape our perception towards what is being "cool". A local example would be national day songs such as "Home" by Dick Lee which is famously effective in invoking a feel of nostalgia and patriotism on Singaporeans. In the case of Japan, a famous children's song "Furusato"- literally means Home in Japanese, is yet another song that demonstrates nationalism at play in music. This shows that music can be manipulated in a manner to achieve one's purpose.

The purpose of creating authenticity in Western style music is felt by many as the need to write music that symbolises Japan. To do so requires musicians to write music that "reflect the national character of people" by "widely [employing] motives, melodies, themes, etc., that were supposedly deeply rooted in the nation's history and conveyed the soul of the people" (Takenaka 2010, 98) . Hence, if we were to recall a point discussed earlier on the government encouraging musicians to write music with Japaneseness, we argue that Japaneseness in music is perhaps viewed with hyperbolised optimism. Following this, we will discuss how nationalism shapes music writing in Japan and how all this could suggest that the quest of musical authenticity may not be as heroic as it seems on surface value. \

4.1 Case Study: Isawa Shuji and the Creation of "National Music"

Isawa Shuji (1851-1917) was believed by many as the principal founder of modern Japanese music. He was an example of a person who was sent abroad, i.e. America, to study the musical style of National Music. After his return to Japan, he became instrumental in shaping the musical education system in Japan. However, while he accepts that Western music education is to be promoted, he refuted that Japan should have her own style of music as he believed that "each race of people had [their] own artistic form to express [their] intrinsic elements" (Takenaka 2010, 100). Likewise, he believed that Japan should have her own character in her music and he expressed that nationalism is a key to helping Japanese formulate Japaneseness in music.