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2016 | 29 | 47-58

Article title

Reassessing the Premises of the Western Musical Acculturation in Far-East Asia



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The penetration of Western European culture at the end of the 19th century all over the world and especially in the Far Eastern realm was and still is an interesting topic for debates, comprising a large area, form accurate historical and sociological research until the most fanatical Europhobic scribbles. One of the most significant fields where this process is unfolding is musical culture. It is well-known that Western music was quickly and enthusiastically assimilated in the every-day life of Japanese and Koreans. Starting from the fruitful co-habitation between Western musical culture and Japanese musical tradition, the present essay proposes a discussion on the forms of cultural contamination and also aims at identifying some possible pre-existent features that might or might not facilitate the interpenetration of two distinct musical cultures.






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  • Watanabe Mamoru, ‘Why do the Japanese like European Music?’, International Social Science Journal, Vol. 34, No. 4, 1982, pp. 657–665.
  • Marius Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, p. 548.
  • Ibidem, p. 550.
  • William Gerald Beasley (ed.), Modern Japan: Aspects of History, Literature and Society, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1975, p. 18.
  • We rephrased in a concise manner the average definitions that can be found in any dictionary.
  • Conrad Phillip Kottak, Mirror for Humanity: A Concise Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, New York: McGraw-Hill Inc. 2010, p. 23.
  • We believe that even if it might be tempting to develop a further discussion on the power spheres, education or social evolution, free from any ideological restriction, such a topic goes far beyond the framework of this paper.
  • Gaspar Veronica, ‘Musical Culture of Minorities in the Romanian Music: Dynamics, Evolution, Role and Interaction in the Surrounding Areas’ in Musical Romania and the Neighbouring Cultures, Eastern European Studies in Musicology, Vol. 2, Maciej Gołąb (ed.), Frankfurt: Peter Lang GmbH, pp. 175–176.
  • Eta Harich-Schneider, A History of Japanese Music, London: Oxford University Press, 1973, p. 4.
  • Veronica Gaspar, ‘Béla Bartók and the Romanian Musical Culture: Intercultural and Intra-Cultural Perspective’ in Literature, Discourse and Multicultural Dialogue II, Târgu-Mureş: “Petru Maior” University Press, 2014, p. 32.
  • Park Mikyung, Music and Shamanism in Korea: A Study of Selected ssikkum-gut Rituals for the Dead, Ph.D. Thesis, University of California Press, 1985, p. 215.
  • Béla Bartók, Notes on the Folk Songs, Bucharest: Editura de Stat pentru Literatură și Artă, 1956, p. 37.
  • Ury Eppstein, ‘From Torture to Fascination: Changing Western Attitudes to Japanese Music’ in Japan Forum 19 (2), London: Routledge, 2007, pp. 191–192.
  • Constantin Brăiloiu, Widening of Musical Sensibility Facing Folk and Non-Western Music in Works II, Emilia Comişel (ed.), Bucharest: Editura Muzicala, 1969, p. 236.
  • We would like to avoid using the customary term for cultured music that is „classical music”, because – actually – it has a different signification for musicians, denoting a particular style, which occurred in a clearly framed period.
  • Eppstein, ‘From torture...’, pp. 197, 200 and 201.
  • Ibid., p. 192.
  • Ibid., p. 203.
  • Ibid., pp. 193 and 197.
  • Harich-Schneider, A History…, p. 548.
  • Watanabe, ‘Why do the Japanese like…’, p. 659.
  • Veronica Gaspar, ‘History of a Cultural Conquest: The Piano in Japan’, Acta Asiatica Varsoviensia, No. 27, 2014, p. 87.
  • Harich-Schneider, A History…, p. 546.
  • Gaspar, ‘History of a Cultural Conquest...’, p. 93.
  • Harich-Schneider, A History..., p. 490 and following.
  • Alain Daniélou, Treaty of Comparative Musicology, Paris: Hermann, 1959, pp. 69–70.
  • Ibidem.
  • Older or more recent works have tried to identify a comprehensive list of the first sources regarding the Celts (Markale 1993, Sawyers 2000) and the early historical periods in Japan (Harich-Schneider 1973, Henshall 1999).

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