Orchestrating Modernity, Singing the Self: Theories of Music in Meiji and Taisho Japan
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CitationService, Jonathan. 2012. Orchestrating Modernity, Singing the Self: Theories of Music in Meiji and Taisho Japan. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
AbstractThe purpose of this thesis is to use the history of music theory to study cultural change in Japan. It has been said that “music is number” (Sima Qian), that it is the “organon of philosophy” (Schelling), that the discovery of the identity of certain simple mathematical ratios with the basic aural consonances—ascribed to Ling Lun in the East and Pythagoras in the West—is the inaugural instance of the “mathematization of reality.” It is this isomorphic relationship between mathematics and music that allows us to unlock the latter and all that it represents with the precision of the former. Indeed, it is my contention that music theory provides one of the crispest articulations of particular mentalités. This thesis is comprised of six chapters Chapter one outlines the history of music theory and shows how it applies to the history of modern Japan. Chapter two describes the way that music theory changed musical sensibility: music-theoretical ideas were imported by bureaucrats, actualized in school songbooks, and through these and other means suppressed the initially unfavorable reaction to Western music through a concerted effort to "hear through" the music to the ideas beneath. Chapter three looks at the way that the twelve tone equal division of the octave functioned analogously to Panofsky's perspectival "symbolische Form": a condition of possibility that rendered intellectually invisible other ways of organizing sound. Chapter four investigates the idea of a “natural scale” and traces attempts in Japan to provide rational, scientific justifications for Japanese scalar formations. Chapter five shows how a particular form of the pentatonic scale—one that both overlapped with the "universal" scale of pre-modernity and was compatible with the diatonic system—came to represent the “Japanese essence” within the constraints of the twelve tone system. Chapter six discusses the double nature of this pentatonic scale through a description of how it symbolized Japan’s entry into the “rationality” of the modern musical system while simultaneously objectifying “Japan” within that system as a specific lack.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10288466
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