1st Edition

Focus: Music in Contemporary Japan

ISBN 9781138791404
Published August 3, 2015 by Routledge
276 Pages

USD $65.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Focus: Music in Contemporary Japan explores a diversity of musics performed in Japan today, ranging from folk song to classical music, the songs of geisha to the screaming of underground rock, with a specific look at the increasingly popular world of taiko (ensemble drumming). Discussion of contemporary musical practice is situated within broader frames of musical and sociopolitical history, processes of globalization and cosmopolitanism, and the continued search for Japanese identity through artistic expression. It explores how the Japanese have long negotiated cultural identity through musical practice in three parts:

Part I, "Japanese Music and Culture," provides an overview of the key characteristics of Japanese culture that inform musical performance, such as the attitude towards the natural environment, changes in ruling powers, dominant religious forms, and historical processes of cultural exchange.

Part II, "Sounding Japan," describes the elements that distinguish traditional Japanese music and then explores how music has changed in the modern era under the influence of Western music and ideology.

Part III, "Focusing In: Identity, Meaning and Japanese Drumming in Kyoto," is based on fieldwork with musicians and explores the position of Japanese drumming within Kyoto. It focuses on four case studies that paint a vivid picture of each respective site, the music that is practiced, and the pedagogy and creative processes of each group.


The accompanying CD includes examples of Japanese music that illustrate specific elements and key genres introduced in the text. A companion website includes additional audio-visual sources discussed in detail in the text.

Jennifer Milioto Matsue is an Associate Professor at Union College and specializes in modern Japanese music and culture.

Table of Contents

List of Figures  Musical Examples on Compact Disc  List of Examples on Companion Website  About the Author  Series Foreword by Michael B. Bakan  Preface  Maps  East Asian Historical Periods  Part I. Japanese Music and Culture  1. Japanese Music in Geographical, Historical and Cultural Context  2. Japanese Cultural Identity and Musical Modernity  Part II. Sounding Japan  3. Performing Music of the Pre-Modern Era  4. Making Music in the Modern Era  Part III. Focusing In: Identity, Meaning and Japanese Drumming in Kyoto  5. Taiko and the Marketing of Tradition in Kyoto  6. Four Case Studies and Some Conclusions:  Tosha Rōetsu and the Pontochō Okeiko  Basara and the One-Room Schoolhouse  Matsuri-shū and the Kyoto Taiko Center  Murasaki Daiko and the Proper Dōjō   7. Conclusion: The Future of Japanese Music  Appendices: A. "Echigojishi" (Yoshizumi Kojūrō-fu for shamisen)  B. "Echigojishi" (Kineya bunkafu for shamisen)  C. "Echigojishi" (Japanese score for ko-tsuzumi and ō-tsuzumi by Tosha Rōetsu)  D. "Echigojishi" (Western score for ko-tsuzumi and ō-tsuzumi by Yamauchi Reach)  Glossary  Additional Resources

View More



Jennifer Milioto Matsue is an Associate Professor at Union College and specializes in modern Japanese music and culture.

Support Material

Companion Website

Please visit our companion website for additional support materials.