Music in Meiji Japan

I will be researching and presenting the musical changes during the Meiji Restoration in Japan. During this period, the Japanese were looking to Westernize their culture. An important, but often overlooked, part of this Westernization was the importation of a Western tonal system. This new system not only brought new scales, but also a novel set of harmonies, rhythms, melodies, harmonic progressions and performance practices. This new genre of music was not only widely listened to, but also taught in Japanese schools.

I will analyze the effect of this Westernization of music on the Western movement in Japan. Even though this new music is very popular, the music carried over from the Tokugawa Era is still more popular.

I will also analyze the change in participation in music during this change. Prior to this Westernization, music was largely ritualistic. But the importation of Western tonality also brought Western performance practice, which included music as a learning process. Children began to learn tunes that were essentially just for fun. I will be analyzing how this change in meaning of music relates to the general historical trend.


Jordan Hayashi