Essay On Post World War II Japanese Music

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Japan, Music, Jazz, War, Culture, World, Asia, Song

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2021/03/22

World War II was one of the greatest war that took place during the era of massive distribution of electric knowledge (Malm 7). With it, the war brought a lot more of competition, debates, hatred, and loss of lives, drift and distance amongst nations. However, one of the aspect that can be positively attributed to the war was the birth of music, electric music to be precise. As well known, music serves many roles in delivering information, entertaining, identifying with certain community as well as an element of unity. Japanese music benefited the nation and East Asian countries both directly and indirectly, despite it going through various forms for adopting the best form of expression and at the same time maintain their culture. Therefore, this paper will focus on the impact of World War II especially on the Japanese music. This paper will precisely focus on how Japanese music came to be, how it affected Japanese culture and the Asian culture at large and the contemporary effects that is reflected in today’s society due to the same.
Today, Japan is credited the soul of jazz music given the high number of individuals who prefer jazz music to any other music. Japanese jazz is a term used to refer to the Japanese music and any music associated with Japanese culture, which can be traced back to aftermath of World War II. Also refer to as the “Asian-American” jazz today (Harich-Schneider 43), it has managed to spread internationally and influence the field of jazz music in many ways. Notably, Japanese pop and Japanese rock has managed to put Japan “on the map,” following the unique traits they portray in terms of expressing information as explained in the paper.
The history of Japanese jazz traces back to post World War II. During the World War II following its central location, Japan became a home of many troops from overseas who came to find ample grounds for revolting against their enemies. After the war, many troops were left behind, including American troops. The high number of overseas trips led to the introduction of jazz music in japan, especially from the Filipino jazz bands and American jazz bands. Arguably, jazz had been introduced by the Japanese locals during thy earlier years, despite it not gaining much recognition from what it came off after World War II. Therefore, much emphasis on Japanese jazz was influenced after the war, which created a basis for the entire spread of this music and more ground for the Japan local musicians to practice it. This gave rise to the birth of Japanese jazz musicians, who incorporated elements of international jazz and Japanese music and gave the Japanese jazz a different taste from what was “served” by the outsiders.
Hattori and Sugii are examples of Japanese jazz musicians who emerged in early 1940’s, who added the elements of what made up the songs of Japanese initially. Notably, the “rising” jazz musicians then adopted the thematic themes that were evident in Japanese culture was well as the traditional folk songs and theatre songs that characterized Japanese music before the war (Komiya 51). Apart from the traditional mode and themes put forth by these respective musicians, their incorporation of jazz electrical element, which was the “in-thing” then, created a larger basis for the enormous popularity attributed to Japanese jazz till date. Despite the much controversies that existed during the rise of Japanese jazz, still, musicians managed to address the contemporary issues that face japan during the post war. Initially, Japanese government referred to jazz music as an “enemy” to the music (Tōru 7), with these controversies leading to government banning this form of music. However, the outnumbering population that celebrated this form of music led to the uplifting of the ban, with various “outsiders” of the nation having the urge to hear more of the “unique” nature of Japanese jazz once they visited the region.
Notably, from 1950’s, jazz performed very well and flourished in japan. Native jazz practiced in conjunction with the use of piano instrument as a flavor aspect to the native jazz songs. This led to the international recognition of various jazz performers and artists from japan, which helped the music attain its full growth during this period (Hughes and Alison 31). Despite the much “belittling” of the music that existed during this period, japan managed to introduce national flavor that enabled the musicians to be quite different and outstanding from other jazz musicians from different origins.
A lot of changes were evident in Japan and the surrounding Asian cultures, especially in East Asia. Japanese music brought forth great changes and influences on the Japanese culture as well as the Asian communities that surrounded Japan. To begin with, Japanese music involved assimilation of westernized form of expressing music. This could be attributed to the Americans and British who came in after the war, who in turn learnt Japanese culture as well as added a bit of the “westernized” form of music expression. At first, Japanese regarded to Americans and British as “devils” who were of no positivity to japan and its people. However, upon their victory during the war, the dictative nature of the respective military led to japan welcoming the generosity of these “outsiders.” Eventually, they learnt their way of ideology, music being part of the idea. Japanese citizens hoped for a rational society, democratic rule, and hope for abolishing utter poverty that they were under before the war. The need for the society to escape oppressive hand of their leaders and appreciate all humanity equally led to the emergence of jazz performances that were used as a channel of airing their grievances. Despite the several bans in the radio stations and such jazz performances, still, many artistic citizens adopted this form of performance and eventually created average grounds for Japanese listeners. From this, various jazz musicians were promoted by the western military, who went outside Japan to perform jazz music as well as create awareness of the existing situation back in their homes. This later led to; group sounds, electric boom and the use of music as a common language by the artists, mainly youths, who were back from America.
Music not only served as a channel for ideologies, but also served the purpose of showing the potential of Japanese and the surrounding countries through unity. Initially, Japan did not like the idea of foreigners into their region, however, their reasons behind the “intrusion” served as a positive energy and was one way of ending the cold war that existed during the post war period (Asai 431). Musicians were able to travel to western nations and bring in different ideologies that could enable their nation prosper. As a result, casinos and music platforms were created, where musicians would perform that later surpassed the existing western businesses that existed in the region. Unity of people from various walks of life, the westerns with the Asians were unified through such concerts and performances and it was easy to spread positive information as well.
During 1980’s, jazz music took another level in Japan. This was attributed to the numerous trips that musicians made all over the world, assimilating favorable cultures, maintaining the Japanese traditional values as well as incorporating the modern electronics in their music. The birth of “pop” music was evident, which was not only adopted in Japan but other surrounding Asian nations as well (Eppstein 52). Pop music took over almost all the American businesses that were set by the American militaries, especially in Seoul and Bangkok (Harich-Schneider 44). Introduction of pop, coupled with “karaoke” was an important aspect of the music, which its spread is evident even in the world today. Pop culture from the 1980’s had a fast spread through East Asia and Thailand and also led to rise of Japanese celebrity musicians and singers. Notably, it led to development of specific magazines and newsletters that specifically gave information on music, singers and any information affiliated to it. Arguably, these respective pop musicians adopted native ways of expressing themselves in the “new era”, which any individual could easily relate the song to Japanese genre. The pop songs, apart from the native lyrics that characterized it, the vocals the singers adopted was one of a kind (Eppstein 41), which is as well evident from today’s Japanese singers.
Apart from pop, rock music was another genre that was on the rise, despite the slight difference from the norm. Japanese rock music involved the slight use of English words, and just like westernized rock music, it incorporated the use of rock instruments and beats to suit the rock rhythm. This was a total assimilation of the west, which spread enormously through the media channels that were upcoming and acted as a way of associating with the west in terms of ideologies as well.
Meanwhile, as Japanese was busy assimilating what could be of benefit to them, East Asia countries adopted the Japanese “way of living”. East Asia looked up to Japan in terms of ideology, which these respective cultures adopted as well for their own benefit. This explains why East Asia followed suit whenever Japan was at its peak in economic development. Musically, during the 18980s and 1990s, pop culture that was introduced in Japan won a lot of funs in East Asia countries and explains the spread of the Japanese melodies in these regions as well.
Applying the Japanese jazz in contemporary art, music as art in Japan helped improved the Japan’s situation in comparison to what it was before the World War II. Notably, there existed a number of theatres before the war, however, through interaction and travelling to “other worlds” served as a “one step ahead” for the Japanese film and theatre industries. Adoption of western ideologies became more relevant and appealing through music, which united the western ideas with the Japanese practices. With such interactions, japan managed to compare itself with the outside world, which gave Japan a reason to improve its economy for the purpose of its people. music served a way of introducing various aspects that were ”invisible”, from mode of dressing to technology as well as the ability of the nation in terms of growth.
Through various channels that arouse once Japanese pop and Japanese rock were introduced, filming and theatres improved to face of the competition from the west. Television programs based on the American industry were abolished and replaced by Japanese films, which serves the East Asian countries today as well.
(Imada 20) argues that not only did Japanese music bring modernity, but also external perspective and served as an education channel for the contemporary society. Further, the article explains that from music, Japan has improved in terms of industrialization and globalization. This could be attributed to the fact that Japan adopted western cultures that enabled the advancement of Japan especially through the 19th and 20th century. (Imada 18) depicts the contemporary society of Japan and what Japanese music is capable of in advancing the efforts to improve Japan’s economic and societal base.
Generally, music brought a wider range of ideas to Japanese and East Asian cultures, despite the assimilation from the west. Introduction of new music culture, such as “karaoke” and pop is one of the most celebrated forms of music in the modern world today. All aspects of the Japanese music serves as a unifying factor, which gathers peoples in various fields and in as much as it is a source of entertainment, it serves a role in passing information and culture from one generation to another. Arguably, Japanese music has managed to be constant in terms of the vocals and its nature, which easily makes a Japanese music recognizable worldwide. This explains why Japanese culture has been able to maintain its culture as well as give the generations a source of identity.
In conclusion, post war came in with a lot of musical benefits to the Japanese nation, which in turn directly or indirectly influenced the growth of Japan as a nation as well. Musicians who travelled worldwide adopted some “musical ways” that they managed to influence their people with, as well as change their ideology and perception on the contemporary society. As discussed in the paper, music served as a channel towards a democratic and free nation, in as well as it literally described the need of “change” for the purpose of growth. Today, Japanese culture can be noted in the native elements and vocals in their music, despite other traditions that Japanese manage to maintain from generations to generations. East Asia, on the other hand, looks up to Japan for various factors, culture playing a vital role. East Asia countries focus on japan for their growth, and just like Japan compared itself to the west for its development, East Asia countries compared itself to Japan for economic growth as well. Arguably, music played a leading role in abolishing the cold war that existed during the post war, thus, its main achievement of uniting various nations serving as the leading role as well.

Works Cited

Asai, Susan Miyo. "Transformations of tradition: Three generations of Japanese American music
Making." Musical Quarterly (1995): 429-453.
Eppstein, Ury. The beginnings of western music in Meiji Era Japan. Vol. 44. Edwin Mellen Pr,
Everett, Yayoi Uno, and Frederick Lau, eds. Locating East Asia in Western Art Music. Wesleyan
Harich-Schneider, Eta. A history of Japanese music. Oxford University Press, USA, 1973.
Hughes, David W., and Alison McQueen Tokita, eds. the ashgate research companion to
Japanese music. Ashgate, 2010.
Imada, Tadahiko. "Post-modernity and Japan's Music Education: An External Perspective."
Research Studies in Music Education 15.1 (2000): 15-23.
Komiya, Toyotaka. Japanese music and drama in the Meiji era. Vol. 3. Tokyo, Obunsha, 1956.
Malm, William P. Traditional Japanese music and musical instruments. Vol. 1. Kodansha
International, 2000.
Tōru, Takemitsu. "My perception of time in traditional Japanese music." Contemporary Music
Review 1.2 (1987): 9-13.

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