JAP, History of Music in Japan from the Mid-Nineteenth Century (E20)

Course content

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.

For BA students, this course is integrated with two weekly lessons on methods in Asian Studies.


Curriculum for BA program in Japanese Studies, 2019

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, 2019

Curriculum for MA program in Japanese Studies, 2019

Curriculum for MA elective program in Japanese Studies, 2019

Curriculum for MA program in Asian Studies, 2008

Learning outcome

BA 2019-studieordning:
Japansk realia 1 (aktivitetskode HJAB00941E)

BA 2015-studieordning:
Japanstudier realia 2 (aktivitetskode HJAB00871E)
Japanstudier realia 3 (aktivitetskode HJAB00891E)

BA-tilvalg 2019-studieordning:
Japansk Realia A (aktivitetskode HJAB10211E)
Japansk Realia B (aktivitetskode HJAB10221E)
Japansk Realia C (aktivitetskode HJAB10231E)

KA 2019-studieordning:
Tekstbaseret emne (aktivitetskode HJAK03341E)
Forskningsoversigt (aktivitetskode HJAK03401E)

KA tilvalg 2019-studieording:
Emnekursus (aktivitetskode HKIK13011E)

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

Lectures, discussions, student presentations.

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.

For BA students, this course is integrated with two weekly lessons on methods in Asian Studies.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assessment

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 356,5
  • English
  • 412,5