HJAK00107U History of Music in Japan from the Mid-Nineteenth Century

Volume 2017/2018

Curriculum for BA program in Asian Studies with specialisation in Indology, Japanese Studies, Chinese Studies, Korean Studies, South East Asian Studies and Tibetology, 2010

Curriculum for BA program in Asian Studies with specialisation in Indology, Japanese Studies, Chinese Studies, Korean Studies, South East Asian Studies and Tibetology, 2015

Curriculum for BA elective program in Japanese Studies, 2017

Curriculum for MA program in Asian Studies, 2008


The enforced opening of Japan in the 1850s and the modernization policies pursued by the Meiji government after 1868 brought profound changes to the practice of music in Japan. Western music was introduced and disseminated through the military and the education system as well as through missionaries. The practice of indigenous Japanese music also changed profoundly as a result of government policies and social and economic changes. In the course of the 20th century developments like the development of mass media (gramophone, film, radio broadcasting) and the emergence of an urban consumer society brought further changes in musical practices.

This course will look at the most important developments in the history of music in Japan. Themes and possible topics for student assignments will include the different genres of traditional music of Japan, the introduction of Western music in Japan, including popular forms such as jazz and tango, the development of popular songs, music and the emerging middle classes, the search for a “Japanese style” of music etc. In part, the topics treated in class may be selected according to students’ interest and students are encouraged to contact me in advance to discuss these.

Questions of theory and methodology will also be included, and one of the main aims of the course will be to learn what the history of music can contribute to our knowledge of the past in general.

Learning Outcome

BA 2010-studieordning:
Japansk Realia 2 (Fagelementkode HJAB00731E)
Japansk Realia 3 (Fagelemntkode HJAB00761E)

BA 2015-studieordning:
Japanstudier realia 1 (fagelementkode HJAB00831E)
Japanstudier realia 2 (fagelementkode HJAB00871E)

BA-tilvalg 2017-studieordning:
Japansk Realia 1 (Fagelementkode  HJAB10131E)
Japansk Realia 2 (Fagelementkode  HJAB10151E)

KA 2008-studieordning:
Tekstbaseret Emne (Fagelementkode HJAK03042E)
Emnekursus A (Fagelementkode HJAK03051E)
Emnekursus B (Fagelementkode HJAK03101E)

Details to be announced. Required introductory readings

If you have not yet done so, please read before the course starts:

Gordon, Andrew. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present: Oxford University Press, 2014 (2009, 2003 – the older editions are can also be used for the pre-1945 period).

Cook, Nicholas. Music: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Wade, Bonnie C. Music in Japan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

It is also advisable to read an introduction to the study of history, such as:

Jordanova, Ludmilla. History in Practice (2nd ed.), London: Hodder Arnold, 2006.

Kjeldstadli, Knut. Fortiden er ikke hvad den har været: en indføring i historiefaget, Frederiksberg: Roskilde Universitets Forlag, 2002.

You should normally have passed the two introductory courses to the history of Japan: Introduction to the History and Culture of Japan before and after 1945.
Lectures, discussions, student presentations. PLEASE NOTE: 1. Of the 4 taught hours, 2 will be ”tutorial-style” and devoted to research methods, including research in Japanese sources. If you are taking this course as an elective or as part of your KA-programme, it will be possible to attend only the two hours centered on the course topic. 2. BA-students are expected to attend the course on academic writing and presentation offered by ToRS in order to develop these skills further.
IMPORTANT: If you are taking this course as a BA course, please note that you should also take the ToRS common course, “Projektstyring i opgaveskrivning”! Although writing in an academic context is an indispensible requirement for all the examinations this course is relevant for, there is only limited time to cover academic writing in the “Japan” course, which focuses on primarily on content.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 356,5
  • Total
  • 412,5
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assesment