CAPS Project: Influences of Western Music as Affective Media on the Asia-Pacific Region: Academic Year 2017 Meeting #2

2pm-6pm, Saturday, January 27, 2018
3-101 (Building No. 3, 1st Floor) [See the Map and Find No.3 Mark]

#1 “Miyagi Michio, Modernism and New Traditional Music”

Henry Johnson
University of Otago

Miyagi Michio (1894-1956) was at the heart of a transformation of koto music in the early twentieth century. As a performer and composer, he devised new instruments, was heavily influenced by Western music, and founded a performance tradition that continues to flourish to this day. What is particularly significant about Miyagi’s influence on the koto is that in the Japanese modernist period he both held on to indigenous instruments yet at the same time transformed them as a way of relocating them to the new socio-political environment. This paper examines Miyagi’s achievements. Within a paradigm that stresses transcultural influence (West on East, and East on West), the discussion focuses on three facets of Miyagi’s modernism: the invention of instruments, the composition of new music, and the foundation of a school of performance. The first of these is an examination of the new instruments he devised. Why were they needed at this time? How were they perceived? Did they last? The second part of the paper explores Miyagi’s musical modernism: his dual influences from earlier Japanese koto music and later associations with Western musical forms. The last part of the paper looks at his social legacy in terms of the music tradition or school of performance that continues to this day. How did it come about? Why does it continue? The three main parts of this discussion contribute to a re-thinking of Miyagi as a traditionalist modernist, a maker of music tradition.

Henry Johnson is Professor at the University of Otago, New Zealand. His research interests are in Asian Studies, Ethnomusicology, and Island Studies, and he has carried out field research in Europe, Asia and Australasia. His books include The Koto (Hotei, 2004), Asia in the Making of New Zealand (Auckland UP, 2006; co-edited), Performing Japan (Global Oriental, 2008; co-edited), The Shamisen (Brill, 2010), and The Shakuhachi (Brill, 2014).

#2 “The Flow of Jazz in Japan: Why Jazz Resonates So Far from Home”

Michael Pronko
Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo, Japan

This talk will examine the elements of American jazz that resonate within Japanese culture. The extent to which the African-American music of jazz has taken root in Japanese nightlife has important cross-cultural foundations that can be explored by focusing on the practice and learning trajectories of jazz by Japanese musicians. The process of Japanese jazz musicians’ assimilation of jazz can be explored in their own words, in the music and by establishing a larger cultural context. Jazz has become part of Japanese culture by both developing new elements and adopting the essentials of jazz practice, both of which are confluent with elements of traditional and contemporary culture.

This talk will explore this assimilation based on three areas of cultural transformation: first, the understanding of Japanese jazz musicians, based on their comments in interviews; second, elements and patterns of assimilation, based on examples of jazz music; and third, consideration of the larger context of Japanese culture and historical changes, based on observations of jazz practice over twenty years. By examining these three threads, the process of assimilation, and of transformation, can be explored with some consideration of the reasons and directions of that assimilation.

Akiyoshi, Toshiko. Personal interview. Nov 17, 2004.
Atkins, E. Taylor. Blue Nippon: Authenticating Jazz in Japan. Durham: Duke UP, 2001. Print.
Atkins, E. Taylor. Message to the author. (2007). E-mail.
Black Sun. Dir. Koreyoshi Kurahara. Eclipse, 1964. DVD.
Fujii, Satoko. Personal interview. November 2007.
Hara, Tomonao. Personal Interview August 2002
Hersch, Charles. Subversive Sounds: Race and the Birth of Jazz in New Orleans. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2007. Print.
Island Virgin. Essential Ellington. 2005. CD.
Mackey, Nathaniel. “Other: From Noun to Verb.” The Jazz Cadence of American Culture. New York: Columbia UP, ed. Robert G. O’Meally. 1998. 513-32. Print.
Minami, Hiroshi. Personal interview. 2005.
Moriya, Junko. Personal interview. 2016.
Play For Peace. Junko Moriya Orchestra. 2015. CD.
Nicholson, Stuart. Is Jazz Dead?: (or Has It Moved to a New Address). New York: Routledge, 2005. Print.
Tada, Seiji. Personal interview. November 2007.
Shibuya, Takeshi. Personal interview. January 2002.
Tamasa. Shibuya Takeshi Orchestra. 1997. CD.
The Warped Ones. Dir. Koreyoshi Kurahara. Eclipse, 1960. Web.
Yamashita, Yosuke. Personal interview. September 2003.

Michael Pronko is Professor of American Literature and Culture in the English Department, Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo. His research interests include contemporary American novels, film adaptations and American music. He has written about jazz for the Japan Times,, Jazznin, Jazz Colo[u]rs and runs his own website, Jazz in Japan ( In addition to jazz, he has written about Japanese culture, art, society and politics for Newsweek Japan, The Japan Times, Artscape Japan, and other publications. He is the author of three award-winning collections of essays about Tokyo: Beauty and Chaos, Tokyo’s Mystery Deepens, and Motions and Moments. His novel, The Last Train, was published in 2017.

#3 “Guitar Making and Intercultural Communication in Japan and Australia”

Gavin Carfoot
Queensland University of Technology, Australia

The guitar has played a prominent role as a cultural intermediary and musical translator, as well as an icon of colonisation and post-War cultural imperialism. The ways such global and local forces are articulated through the guitar have been described as an example of ‘glocalisation’ (Bennett and Dawe 2001), and the idea of a ‘guitarscape’ has been offered as a way of framing the complex material, social and cultural contexts of the guitar (Dawe 2010). While much has been written on musicians’ use of the guitar in this glocal guitarscape, less has been written about the ways that people who make guitars enact and experience intercultural communication through their making, before such instruments take flight. In this paper, I explore how guitar makers in Japan and Australia communicate ideas of self and identity in and across cultures, through what we might call a ‘language’ of material agency. This language relies on post-War cultural imperialism and globalisation, but also opens up spaces in which such imperialism and globalisation can be challenged and re-configured. These aspects of making are important in understanding how the ki no bunka (culture of wood) is articulated across cultures, and how guitar makers in Japan and Australia come to understanding each other’s work along a continuum between artisanal and industrial modes of production.

Bennett, A., & Dawe, K. (Eds.). (2001). Guitar Cultures. Oxford; New York: Berg.
Dawe, K. (2010). The New Guitarscape in Critical Theory, Cultural Practice and Musical Performance. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Dr Gavin Carfoot is a Senior Lecturer in Music at the Queensland University of Technology, Australia. He has worked extensively in popular music curriculum and assessment at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and his collaborative work in popular music education and community service learning won a Griffith Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2012. His book Making Things Musical will be published by Routledge in 2018, and he has recent publications in the Oxford Handbook in Artistic Citizenship, Routledge Research Companion to Popular Music Education, Arts-Based Service Learning with First Peoples (Springer), Popular Music and Popular Communication. As a songwriter and producer, Gavin’s musical career has taken him from performing with touring swing bands to working with pop artists from television shows such as Australian Idol and X Factor.

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