AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 441

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Session 441: Asian Sounds II

Musical contact zones in East Asia, 1895-1945
Alison Tokita, Kyoto City University of the Arts, Japan

The era of modernity for imperial Japan, semi-colonial China and colonial Taiwan and Korea provided a brilliant stage for musical transculturation. In this region of shifting and ambiguous borders, vibrant expatriate communities formed, and orchestras were established to serve those communities. Movements of people between the communities led to a regional grid of musical performance, and of exchange of musical expertise. Touring performers from around the world brought the latest trends in music and theatre to port cities such as Shanghai, Kobe and Yokohama. Further, Japan’s cultural policy saw music as an important part of (semi) colonial rule, along with film, the recording industry and language policy, particularly in Manchuria. Shanghai, Harbin and Osaka can be called “musical contact zones”. This paper traces the movements of performers and conductors between these zones and the musical culture they engendered. It argues that western classical music provided a multilaterally recognized and desirable shared modernity which muted nationalistic rivalries, and ambiguated Japanese hegemony. Many from China, Taiwan and Korea received their musical training in Japan, while Japanese musicians had opportunities to directly experience a global musical standard when working with expatriate performers in Shanghai and Harbin. Further musical transculturation occurred in Japan through intensive contact with immigrant refugee musicians, who from 1917 formed a trail from Russia and later Germany to China, Japan, and from there to the New World. This flow of musicians was a crucial factor in the formation of East Asian musical culture in the postwar period.

Music, Religion and Politics in Western Orissa (India)
Lidia Guzy, Freie Universitat, Germany

Abstract Music, Religions and Politics in Western Orissa (India) Dr. Lidia Guzy The paper investigates the characteristics of music as medium of social, religious and political messages. The music of the ganda baja village orchestras played by marginalised musicians represents local notions of the utterances of different goddesses in the Bora Sambar region of western Orissa. This ritual music is intrinsically linked to goddess embodiment and trance mediums. At the same time, ganda baja is deeply interrelated with the socio-cultural hierarchy of the caste system and with recent political transformation processes. The paper aims at analysing music as a crucial cultural medium of ritual and mass communication mediating sacred and social, individual and collective change and creativity.

The Dynamic of Cultural Diplomacy in North Korea: Three Case Studies from Western Classical Music.
Cecilia Kang, University of Michigan, USA

North Korea’s increasing invitations to international classical musicians to visit, to perform and to collaborate with North Korean musicians in the recent years, marks a significant shift in their foreign policy tactics as well as their growing interest in cultural diplomacy. An invaluable perspective on the country’s cultural dynamic can be examined by investigating three contemporary case studies of international musicians who have been granted entries into North Korea. South Korean composer Isang Yun, (1917-1995) a pioneer cultural advocate in his reunification efforts of Korea through Music, has made an unforgettable impact on future generations of musicians and cultural diplomats. British soprano Suzannah Clarke, a frequent guest artist to North Korea since 2003, has actively contributed to raise more awareness to humanitarian needs in the country. Finally, the New York Philharmonic’s tour to Pyongyang, North Korea in 2008 was an unprecedented event on both cultural and political levels as the ensemble not only represented as the first international orchestra to perform in North Korea, and the largest contingent of Americans to visit the country since the Korean War (1950-1953). This paper, through archival research and personal interviews with Barbara Haws, archivist for the New York Philharmonic; Suzannah Clarke; and Eduard Brunner, Yun’s close friend and protégé, will address the premises of the above invitations, the musicians’ activities, and their personal reflections. This presentation may also include my live performance of Isang Yun’s piece for a solo clarinet “Piri,” (1971) which was written shortly after his release from the abduction by the Korea Central Intelligence Agency.

The Inaudible Making of Taiwanese Neo-Folksong
Piin-Shiuan Wu, Indiana University-Bloomington, USA

The Taiwanese Neo-Folksong Movement began in the early 1990s. A group of musicians from Blackmail Studio is considered among the earliest exponents of Taiwanese Neo-Folksong. Although influential, there is little in the literature on Taiwanese Neo-Folksong that examines these early musicians and their contexts of production in any depth. Moreover, the current scholarship on modern Taiwanese music seems to take for granted a rather simplistic interpretation of the relation between political power and the production of music, seeing music production as a part of total history and overlooking the dynamic interplay of the social and the individual, and the emergent processes under the formative influence of the ready-made phenomenon. Through the case study of Taiwanese neo-folksong musicians and their music, this paper is aimed to explore the paradoxical relations between generalized and particularized discourses about the value of Taiwanese Neo-Folksong and between the ideas about tradition and creativity. Both are part of what I call the inaudible making of Taiwanese music. Compared to the sound that is made audible as the primary product of the process of music-making, aesthetics, ideologies, social values, and cultural memories are “inaudible” registers. By addressing the aesthetic frame of references in relation to the socio-political registers that condition the making of Taiwanese Neo-Folksong, I will examine the new context of Taiwanese neo-folksong—in what ways the well-known elements of a cultural heritage and collective memory have been adapted to the generic aesthetics of another epoch, and how the meaning is constantly negotiated when a given tradition is reinvigorated in a modern context.