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Music, politics and memory : Japanese military songs in war and peace

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Item Summary

Title:Music, politics and memory : Japanese military songs in war and peace
Authors:McClimon, Sarah Jane
Date Issued:Dec 2011
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2011]
Abstract:Sixty-five years after the end of the Asia-Pacific War, Japanese military song inhabits a contested area between remembering and forgetting the past. I examine gunka to understand its meaning in historical and contemporary context. Based on archival and ethnographic research, including interviews, music lessons, participation in karaoke, and attendance at shrine festivals and war song performances, I explore the ways that music informs collective identity and memory in the postwar period. After introductory statements in Chapter One, Chapter Two considers the history of military music from the Meiji Restoration through the end of the Asia-Pacific War, looking at the development of music in the military and public schools in the early period and through a variety of media during the Asia-Pacific War. While the definition of gunka is malleable and changeable over time, Chapter Three defines gunka and related wartime popular genres, illustrating major characteristics through musical examples. Lyrics played an important part in national mobilization, so Chapter Four considers a major theme in song lyrics--the expected roles of soldiers and civilians in wartime. After Japan's surrender in 1945, gunka remained in various forms. Chapter Five examines traces of gunka in the postwar era through media and the everyday soundscape. After a consideration of factors that influenced Japanese views of the war, I examine karaoke, comic books, songbooks, films, records, concerts, and the worldwide web to explore the second life of gunka in a country without a military. I transcribe and analyze four postwar recordings of popular gunka by entertainers Morishige Hisaya and Misora Hibari. Chapters Six and Seven provide ethnographic data on gunka activities in the early twenty-first century. Chapter Six explores private communities that sing gunka. These communities are multigenerational and have mixed gender, with heterogeneous political beliefs. Chapter Seven examines staged gunka performances, including annual concerts and a large-scale gunka event associated with Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. I examine the repertoire of these events to elicit the ways that participants remember and forget elements of the past. I transcribe one song in live performance and examine its performance practice. I contrast public musical behavior (tatemae) with private feelings and activities (honne). Chapter Eight considers conclusions. Selective memory and contentious personal feelings--glorifying the past military and mourning the dead--characterize gunka activities in the post-war soundscape. Musical remembering evokes personal loss and victimization, as well as the idealization of a past Japan. Gunka activities reveal a nation with multiple, contested views of the past war and its music. A postlude considers my identity as a researcher and ethical implications for the work, including the challenge of representing sensitive Japanese memories from an American point of view.
Description:Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2011.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Music

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