Japan was the first non-Western nation to compete with the Western powers at their own game. The country’s rise to a major player on the stage of Western music has been equally spectacular. The connection between these two developments, however, has never been explored.
How did making music make Japan modern? How did Japan make music that originated in Europe its own? And what happened to Japan’s traditional music in the process? Music and the Making of Modern Japan answers these questions. Discussing musical modernization in the context of globalization and nation-building, Margaret Mehl argues that, far from being a side-show, music was part of the action on centre stage. Making music became an important vehicle for empowering the people of Japan to join in the shaping of the modern world.
In only fifty years, from the 1870s to the early 1920s, Japanese people laid the foundations for the country’s post-war rise as a musical as well as an economic power. Meanwhile, new types of popular song, fuelled by the growing global record industry, successfully blended inspiration from the West with musical characteristics perceived as Japanese.
Music and the Making of Modern Japan represents a fresh contribution to historical research on making music as a major cultural, social, and political force.