EMS Proceedings and Other Publications

Meanings in Making Music: Has Composing Changed with Technology?

Yuriko Hase Kojima

Yuriko Hase Kojima, Shobi University, Saitama, Japan


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In the one hundred years or so since Western classical music was first introduced in Japan, it has become an integral part of Japanese musical culture. By the 1950s, many talented Japanese composers - such as Toru Takemitsu, Toshiro Mayuzumi, and Joji Yuasa - were creating works in the same musical language as Western composers trained in the classical tradition; and, like their Western contemporaries, they were composing not only for traditional acoustic instruments, but also music for electronics and other emerging technologies of the time. Composers of Takemitsu and Mayuzumi’s generation wrote both so-called art music, intended for serious contemplation in the concert hall, and commercial music, such as that for movies and radio programs. In present-day Japan, however, composers tend to identify themselves in groups according to more narrowly-defined categories, with very little interaction or overlap among these groups in terms of artistic expression. Music technology first proliferated in Japan in the realm of popular music. Japanese composers who follow the tradition of Western classical music have tended not to consider music technology as real tools for artistic creation. However, this situation has been changing gradually over time. Surveying the development of Japanese composers over the past one hundred years, we can find dramatic transitions in terms of compositional methods and techniques. In this paper, I would like to talk about how music technology was introduced into the Japanese art music scene, and how it has contributed to works within that scene.

EMS10 Proceedings