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Reviewed by:
  • Yôgaku: Japanese Music in the Twentieth Century
  • Yayoi Uno Everett (bio)
Yôgaku: Japanese Music in the Twentieth Century. Luciana Galliano. Trans. Martin Mayes. Foreword to the Italian edition by Luciano Berio. Foreward to the English edition by Jôji Yuasa. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2002. In English with photographs, musical examples, appendices of Japanese names and aesthetic terms, index, and bibliography, 357 pp.

Japan has undergone a rapid process of modernization and westernization since the Meiji period (1868–1911). As the nation braced itself for social integration into the New World Order, a categorical divide was established between Western and Japanese customs (seiyô/wayô) with regard to many social activities, including the division between yôgaku (Western music) and hôgaku (traditional Japanese music). Drawing on the "Marilyn Ivy" model, Bonnie Wade claims that what lies at the heart of the yôgaku/hôgaku divide is the persistence of a given formula for cultural change: import the "foreign" but keep it apart until it is domesticated, in order to preserve the traditional core (Wade 2000, 15–16). In exploring the challenges and obstacles Japanese musicians and composers faced in the process of assimilating this new tradition, Galliano's book offers a detailed and comprehensive historiography of yôgaku in twentieth-century Japan. Especially informative is her consideration of the different sectors of cultural production (for example, politics, education, aesthetics, philosophy, and literature) that shaped the formation of distinctive schools of composition and aesthetic orientations in the course of the century. While the book focuses primarily on the musical contributions of Western-trained Japanese [End Page 136] composers, Galliano refers to a parallel development in hôgaku by tracing the intersection between the two practices—that is to say, the structural and aesthetic changes initiated by pioneering musicians in both worlds.

The first part of the book chronicles the development of yôgaku from the Meiji Restoration up until World War II. The opening chapter describes the circumstances under which Western music was introduced as part of the educational reform for modernization instituted by the government, following the aesthetic ideal of wakon yôsai (Japanese morality combined with Western technology). An important epistemological shift in musical value took place when the concept of musical authorship was introduced: the notion of composing music as a vocation separate from the performer–arranger model of the hôgaku tradition. Galliano traces the emergence of the Western-style concept of self to the shi shôsetsu (autobiographical novel) movement in the 1920s. Kiyose Yasuji, Noda Nobe, and Yamada Kôsaku belong to the first generation of composers to establish the foundation for the study of Western art music in this regard. Miyagi Michio, the founder of the shinnihon ongaku (new Japanese music), is credited with pioneering efforts to blend Western elements into his compositions; Galliano identifies his Variations on Etenraku (1928) as the first piece to combine a hôgaku instrument (koto) with Western orchestra.

Chapter 2 offers a detailed account of the negotiations that took place among composers as they theorized about the future of Japanese music during the second and third decades of the twentieth century; two different schools of composition (German versus French lineage) polarized the artistic climate of yôgaku. Interestingly, the debate centered on how Japanese melodies should be harmonized according to a Western system of harmonization. Those who participated in the debate were not restricted to Japanese composers such as Mitsukuri Shûkichi,Tanaka Shôhei, and Hayasaka Fumio, but included foreign musicians in residence.

In chapter 3, Galliano describes how the economic and institutional basis for yôgaku was firmly established within fifty years of its introduction into Japanese culture through the proliferation of orchestras, operas, institutions, publications of music, and journals. Chapter 4 turns to the impact of political nationalism on music making during the turbulent decades of Japan's imperial conquests. Composers were under pressure to promote nationalism by blending "the glamorous, bombastic aspects of the European orchestra" with a touch of Japanese folk music (116). Galliano discusses the emergence of left-wing activist groups, notably the Proletarian Music League led by prominent female composers such as Yoshida Takako...


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pp. 136-142
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