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13/07/2020 Gagaku, Music of the Empire:Tanabe Hisao and musical heritage as national identity

Cipango - French Journal

of Japanese Studies
English Selection

5 | 2016 :
New Perspectives on Japan's Performing Arts

Gagaku, Music of the Empire:

Tanabe Hisao and musical
heritage as national identity
Translated by Karen Grimwade

English Français
At the beginning of the 20th century, Tanabe Hisao (1883‑1984), the first Japanese musicologist,
elaborated a history of Japanese music in which Gagaku was presented as a original music not
only of Japan, but also of all countries in Asia. This concept of Gagaku is consistent with the
imperial and colonial ideology before World War II, and still remains up to the present day. It is
for example the decision of the Ministry of Education of Japan to designate Gagaku performed by
the Court musicians of the Music Department of the Imperial Household as an “Important
Intangible Cultural Property” on May 12, 1955, that makes Japan forget the history of musical
colonization in aid of more positive re-reading. Gagaku is then described as a cultural relic of the
“Asian Continent”, a term substituted for that of the “Greater East Asia Co‑Prosperity Sphere” in
the 1940s.

Au début du e siècle, Tanabe Hisao (1883‑1984), premier musicologue japonais, a élaboré une
histoire de la musique japonaise dans laquelle le gagaku était présenté comme une musique
originale non seulement du Japon, mais aussi de tous les pays asiatiques. Cette notion du gagaku
s’accorde avec l’idéologie impériale et coloniale avant‑guerre et reste présente jusqu’à nos jours.
C’est, par exemple, la décision du ministère japonais de l’Éducation de désigner le gagaku joué
par les musiciens de cour du département de Musique de l’Agence impériale comme « bien
culturel immatériel important » le 12 mai 1955, qui permet au Japon d’oublier l’histoire de la
colonisation musicale au profit d’une relecture plus positive. Le gagaku est alors décrit comme
vestige culturel du « continent asiatique », ce dernier terme se substituant à celui très marqué de
« Sphère de coprospérité de la Grande Asie orientale » des années 1940.

Index terms
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13/07/2020 Gagaku, Music of the Empire:Tanabe Hisao and musical heritage as national identity

Keywords : Japan, China, Korea, Taishō period, Meiji period, performing arts, gagaku, kagura,
Tanabe Hisao, colonization, patrimony, intangible cultural property of Japan, national music
Mots-clés : gagaku, kagura, Tanabe Hisao, musique nationale, colonisation, patrimoine, bien
culturel immatériel au Japon, Grande Asie orientale

Full text
Original release: Seiko Suzuki, « Le gagaku, musique de l’Empire : Tanabe Hisao
et le patrimoine musical comme identité nationale », Cipango, 20, 2013, 95‑139,
mis en ligne le 18 avril 2015. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/cipango/
1999 ; DOI : 10.4000/cipango.1999

1 At the beginning of the twentieth century Tanabe Hisao ⽥ 邊 尚 雄 (1883‑1984), an

acoustician and musicologist, the first ethnomusicologist in Japan and first chairman of
the Society for Research in Asiatic Music (Tōyō Ongaku Gakkai 東 洋 ⾳ 楽 学 会 ), put
forward an epoch‑making history of Japanese and Asian music. It presented gagaku as
an original genre which, while undeniably part of Japan’s musical heritage, was also
representative of a culture shared by all Asian countries. Tanabe’s theories were
instrumental in the Ministry of Education’s decision to designate gagaku as an
Important Intangible Cultural Property of Japan (jūyō mukei bunkazai 重要無形⽂化
財) on 12 May 1955.1 His studies established gagaku as Japan’s oldest musical genre,
one that had remained unchanged over the centuries, illustrating the permanence and
immutability of the cultural identity of the Japanese people.2 Although a variety of
private gagaku groups exists today, the Ministry of Education’s Committee for the
Protection of Cultural Properties considers that only the Music Department of the
Imperial Household Agency “preserves an authentic gagaku for future generations and
is able to stage artistic performances”.3 In other words, it is the continuity and
invariability of this court institution that ensures the authenticity of gagaku. However,
as the guardian of a cultural heritage that extends beyond Japan’s shores, gagaku was
also presented by Tanabe as the most “universal” music. Here it is helpful to remember
that Tanabe developed his definition of gagaku in a context of imperialism and
Japanese colonialism, which, in the early 1940s, gave rise to the concept of a “Greater
East Asian Music” (Daitōa ongaku ⼤東亜⾳楽), as Japan tried to establish itself as the
heart of a unified bloc of Asian nations.
2 It is precisely these postulates of immutability, identity, universality, and, ultimately,
the concept of “cultural property” and “heritage”, that this article seeks to explore. To
do so I propose to adopt a historical perspective to study the definition of gagaku as a
specific musical repertoire, and analyse the process by which this music ascended to the
rank of Important Intangible Cultural Property in Japan. Particular attention will be
paid to Tanabe Hisao’s role in constructing this image.

Early modern gagaku

3 The current label of gagaku thus refers strictly to the repertoire performed by the
twenty‑five musicians from the Music Department of the Imperial Household Agency’s
Board of Ceremonies (Kunaichō Shikibushoku Gakubu 宮内庁式部職楽部). Generally
speaking, this repertoire can be divided into three categories:

1. Kokufū kabu 国⾵歌舞 (national-style [i.e. Japanese] vocal pieces and dances)
2. Gairai gakubu 外 来 楽 舞 (instrumental music and dances imported from
3. Utaimono 歌物 (vocal pieces)4

4 There are two basic occasions on which gagaku is performed: 1) ritual and secular
ceremonies reserved for the imperial court, 2) public performances given in concert
halls. Such is the definition of gagaku given in the dictionaries and encyclopaedias of
Japanese music published over the past thirty years.5 In actual fact, these reference

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works all draw on the contemporary definition of gagaku that was developed by
Tanabe, notably in an article on the subject published in the Dictionary of Music in
1955.6 And this definition has been generally accepted by the academic community ever
since. Nevertheless, it would seem useful to remind ourselves what the term gagaku
referred to before Tanabe’s time.
5 Ga-gaku literally means “refined” or “legitimate” (ga 雅) “music” (gaku 楽); in other
words, music designed to be played during court rites.7 The term appeared for the first
time in the Analects of Confucius.8 Indeed, Confucian thought upholds the idea that a
monarch should rule through “ritual and music” (in Japanese, reigaku 礼 楽 ) rather
than through “punishment and coercion” (keisei 刑 政 ).9 According to these ideas
stressing the importance of rites and music as instruments of political morality, the
ideal music was gagaku, the ritual music of the imperial court.10 In this way, gagaku
did not refer to a particular genre of music but was the common name given to all ritual
music played at court. It was used in this sense by successive Chinese dynasties and in
countries that fell within the Chinese cultural sphere. The term thus designated a
content that differed by region and by period.11
6 In fifth-century Japan, cultural exchange with mainland China and the Three
Kingdoms of Korea facilitated the introduction of various types of music from Asia.
These were incorporated into court ritual and the rites conducted at Buddhist temples,
giving them the hallmark of a refined and official music. The word gagaku is first
known to have been used in Japan in 701, in a passage written about the Imperial Music
Bureau (Gagaku-ryō 雅楽寮, literally the “Government Department of Gagaku”). This
bureau was overseen by the Ministry of Ceremonies (Jibushō 治部省), itself part of the
Council of State (Daijōkan 太 政 官 ).12 Having been established by the Taihō Code
(Taihō‑ryō ⼤ 宝 令 ), the Imperial Music Bureau was a school responsible for training
the singers and dancers who would perform at court. Consequently, between the
eighth century and the early tenth century, the term gagaku referred either to the
Imperial Music Bureau itself or collectively to the musical styles institutionalised by the
Taihō Code and performed by the bureau’s members.13 These included on the one hand
“Japanese music” (yamato‑gaku 倭楽), or in any case, compositions seen as belonging
to a musical heritage little influenced by the arts of mainland Asia, and on the other
“Tang music” (tō‑gaku 唐 楽 ), music from the Three Kingdoms of Korea—“Goguryeo
music” (kōrai‑gaku ⾼ 麗 楽 ), “Silla music” (shiragi‑gaku 新 羅 楽 ), “Baekje music”
(kudara‑gaku 百 済 楽 )—and music and dance known to have come from the Asian
7 During the Heian period (794‑1182) gagaku prospered within Japan’s imperial
culture, not only as a ceremonial music but also as a form of entertainment. The
emperor himself was a member of the gagaku musical ensemble. In order to satisfy the
demand for gagaku performances and oversee musical entertainment, new
departments were created and placed under the control of the Chamberlain’s Office
(Kurōdodokoro 蔵⼈所). They included the Bureau of Song (Ō‑utadokoro ⼤歌所) and
the Music Office (Gakusho 楽 所 ).15 From the ninth century onwards the Bureau of
Song was responsible for performing the “Japanese” vocal pieces and dances that had
previously been the responsibility of the Imperial Music Bureau. Henceforth, the
Imperial Music Bureau mainly performed “foreign” music, which was reorganised into
two divisions—“Tang music”16 and “Goguryeo music”17—during the ninth century.
However, in the tenth century the Music Office was established and took over the role
of performing this “foreign” music from the Imperial Music Bureau. Links between the
Imperial Music Bureau, the Bureau of Song and the Music Office appear to have been
virtually nil,18 although their members were all high‑ranking dignitaries and court
officials.19 These members also included a few families of low-ranking officials, the Ōno
多 and Koma 狛 families for example, who held positions within the Music Office. Some
of these families performed kagura, a genre considered at the time to be specific to
Japan. Formalized in 1002 during the reign of Emperor Ichijō and henceforth
performed regularly before the Inner Sanctum of the Imperial Palace (Naishidokoro 内
侍所), this musical ritual, which was intended to be entertainment for the gods, was one
of the most important rites at the imperial court. Following the decline of the Taihō

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system and the ossification of the Imperial Music Bureau in the twelfth century,20 the
term gagaku began to refer more narrowly to “Tang music” and “Goguryeo music”.21
8 Although gagaku briefly withstood the arrival of a new military ruling class in the
fourteenth century, the Ōnin civil war in the late fifteenth century saw the hereditary
guilds of gagaku musicians forced to leave the ruined imperial capital, leading gagaku
to virtually disappear. At the end of the sixteenth century the emperor summoned the
hereditary guilds that had survived at the temples of Kōfuku-ji 興 福 寺 in Nara and
Shitennō‑ji 四天王寺in Osaka to gather at the imperial court in Kyoto and perform at
official ceremonies. This led to the reconstruction of the Music Office in the three cities
of Kyoto, Nara and Osaka.22
9 The Tokugawa shogunate is known to have encouraged Neo-Confucian studies
during the Edo period, and significantly, Confucianism attaches considerable
importance to gagaku.23 At the same time, the shogunate preserved the arts and
culture of the court in the imperial capital, though within the limits of the laws it had
enacted. It provided financial patronage to the hereditary guilds of gagaku musicians
and summoned some of them to move to Edo, the administrative capital, and perform
rites at the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu (Tōshōgū 東 照 宮 ) in Nikkō and at
Momijiyama, located within the precincts of Edo Castle.24 These hereditary guilds
primarily performed “Tang music” and “Goguryeo music”.
10 During the second half of the Edo period, as part of the move to restore imperial
ceremony to the court, a succession of emperors requested that certain long-extinct
genres of “Japanese” vocal music and dance be revived. These included azuma‑asobi 東
遊 (entertainment from the eastern provinces), yamato‑mai 倭 舞 (dance from the
Yamato region), and kume‑mai 久 ⽶ 舞 (dance of the Kume clan),25 which would
become the gagaku of the Meiji era. The majority of the compositions known as
gagaku during the modern period are thus revivals from the Edo period. Nevertheless,
this evolution was not without its opponents: Matsudaira Sadanobu, third lord of the
Shirakawa Domain, mounted a resistance against the hereditary guilds in 1829 and
sought to restore the original meaning of gagaku as a “legitimate” or “ritual” music. He
believed that the term gagaku could refer only to kagura and azuma‑asobi, the only
legitimate genres of ritual court music (due to being “specifically Japanese”).26

Gagaku as “national music” during the

Meiji period
11 With the Meiji Restoration of 1868, the emperor and the seat of national government
left Kyoto and moved permanently to Tokyo—the eastern capital—in May 1869. On
7 November 1869, the imperial government began to summon musicians from the three
gagaku hereditary guilds in Kyoto, Nara and Osaka to the new capital in Tokyo.27
There, they were primarily required to perform kagura—the most important form of
dance at the imperial court—, other “Japanese” vocal and dance pieces (revivals from
the Edo period), “Tang music” and “Goguryeo music”. Together these repertoires
formed part of the imperial rites and ceremonies that were restored at the new court in
Tokyo.28 In a move intended to revive the Imperial Music Bureau of the eighth‑century
imperial court, a Music Department (Gagaku‑kyoku 雅楽局) was established within the
Council of State in November 1870. In 1871 the reform of Japan’s administrative
organisations saw the Music Department become a Music Section (Gagaku‑ka 雅楽課),
which was subsequently placed under the responsibility of the Imperial Household
Ministry in 1889.29 In contrast to Japan’s other traditional performing arts, gagaku was
the only music performed before the emperor and institutionalised once again by the
Government of Japan, and this no sooner had it been reformed.30 Thus, gagaku found
itself defined administratively, just as it had been in the eighth century, as any music
performed by the Music Section of the imperial court, regardless of whether this
consisted of “music specific to our country” (wagakuni koyū no gaku 我邦固有ノ楽) or
“music originating from Goguryeo or the Tang Dynasty” (tō kōrai den no gaku 唐⾼麗
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12 Another important point to note is that beginning in 1874, gagaku musicians were
also obliged to perform Western music at certain imperial ceremonies that had been
inspired by the West.32 Music thereby provided a means for Japan to affirm its
modernity and also reflected its desire to rival—if not surpass—Western levels of
cultural development. Accordingly, musicians from the Music Section established the
first Western orchestra in Japan. A certain number of them also carried out research on
Japanese music and taught Western music at the Ministry of Education’s Music
Research Institute (Ongaku Torishirabe Gakari ⾳楽取調掛).33
13 The fate of gagaku during the Meiji period was heavily influenced by the concept of
“national music” (kokugaku 国 楽 ), which played a central role in the “creation of
national identities in Europe”.34 In Europe, musical nationalism, which already existed
in the late eighteenth century, truly emerged in the mid‑nineteenth century during the
formation of the nation-states.35 In Japan, “national music” often played a similar role
to ritual music in Confucian thought.36 Indeed, during this period national music and
ritual music shared the same edifying and moral character.37 They came together for
the first time on September 12, 1872, at the opening ceremony for Japan’s first railway
line. Two pieces of “Tang music” were played by the Music Section as the national flag
was raised before Emperor Meiji: Manzai‑raku 万 歳 楽 at Shimbashi Station and
Keiun‑raku 慶雲楽 at Yokohama Station. Gagaku was thus truly considered a “national
14 The move to restore imperial rule to Japan and create a State Shintō also led palace
rituals—and thus the music performed at them—to be redefined.39 The most dominant
among these genres was kagura, a ritual music and dance rooted in Japanese myth and
thus seen as having divine origins, and the number of kagura performances increased
spectacularly.40 In parallel, Japan’s participation at the Exposition Universelle de Paris
in 1878 obliged the court’s gagaku musicians to define themselves as performers of
“Japanese music”.41 This is an important point to make because their attendance at the
world fair led them to write scores as well as a presentation of their art, in what was one
of the first summary texts on gagaku.42 In it they explained that kagura was considered
to be the most elevated form of gagaku due to it being “specifically Japanese”. What is
more, an official document recommended that if musical instruments were to be
displayed, those used to perform kagura should be placed at the front.43
15 However, more than the musicians themselves, the discourse on “national music”
was primarily shaped by officials at the new government’s Ministry of Education, such
as Megata Tanetarō ⽬賀⽥種太郎 (1853‑1926) and Isawa Shūji 伊沢修⼆ (1851‑1917).
Their concept of “national music” was inspired by the elementary school curriculum
used in the United States, developed in Boston in 1838 based on the theories of the
Swiss educator Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746‑1827). In fact, given the political
context of nation building in a country with a growing immigrant population, the main
objective of music instruction in the United States at that time was to teach non-
English-speaking children authentic language and pronunciation through song, which
was part of the “national music” curriculum.44 Building a modern nation through
“national music” was exactly what Megata and Isawa hoped to achieve, and they were
duly sent to Boston to study the city’s primary school education system by the Japanese
Ministry of Education in 1875.
16 Despite this, Megata and Isawa were far from placing gagaku at the heart of their
reflections. Upon their return from the United States they suggested creating a
“national music” repertoire that drew on a wide variety of sources:45

National music must consist of national songs and melodies that can be sung or
played by any member of the Japanese people, whether they be an aristocrat or a
commoner, with no distinction made between the sophisticated and the common.
For this we must draw on high quality musical works—past and present—that are
peculiar to our country, but also, if necessary, on European works.


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17 In short, the authors saw “national music” as referring to a repertoire that had to be
defined by the Japanese people of the time and not to a refined gagaku from the
country’s imperial past; nor for that matter to popular or European music. Instead this
“national music” had to be created by taking the best elements from each of these
genres. This ideal is visible in the three volumes of the Collection of Primary School
Songs (Shōgaku shōka shū ⼩ 学 唱 歌 集 ), published between 1881 and 1884 by the
Ministry of Education’s Music Research Institute. Note that this collection was
published to teach children the heptachord, the seven-note scale used in the West. It
drew on exercises taken from the Primary of First National Music Reader written by
the Boston music educator Luther Whiting Mason (1828‑1896), who was invited to
Japan by Isawa, the then director of the Music Research Institute.46 In fact, the activity
report produced by this institute stressed the similarity between the heptachord used in
gagaku (a “specifically Japanese” music) and that used in ancient Greek music (a
“European music”).47 This illustrates the educational role expected to be played by the
repertoire of a musical genre involved in the emergence of a new nation.
18 Furthermore, despite the Music Section’s desire to establish its art as a “national
music”, the definition of gagaku as a music originating in China and Korea (which was
the generally-accepted definition until the Edo period) largely survived. This is the case,
for example, in the Nihon jisho genkai ⽇ 本 辞 書 ⾔ 海 , a famous dictionary compiled
in 1879 by Ōtsuki Fumihiko ⼤ 槻 ⽂ 彦 , whose definition was used in almost all
Meiji‑period dictionaries. The idea of gagaku being a national music also attracted
staunch opposition. An anonymous article entitled “The Gagaku Association and the
Establishment of a National Music,” published in the literary journal of Tokyo Imperial
University, gave three damning reasons why gagaku should not be Japan’s “national
music”:48 first, it was a musical genre imported from overseas and enjoyed only by high
society; second, it was only performed in cities; and third, it was far from having been
the only musical genre in Japan’s history, the Japanese people having taken an interest
in many others. As we can see then, the idea that gagaku was a “national music” was
not universally accepted; some wanted the concept of “national music” to be based on
more than gagaku’s long history.
19 Particular attention must be paid to what could be described as a Romantic logic
characterised by a high regard for the notions of people and tradition: namely, that no
music not performed by the entire nation could be considered a national music. This
line of thought, which consisted in idealising a lost past supposedly belonging to the
entire national community, mirrored the beliefs held by those who took an interest in
“folk songs” during this era.
20 In fact, within Japan there was a literary movement inspired by German
Romanticism which aimed to collect popular songs from around the country and
compose new ones. Supporters of this movement wanted to strengthen national
identity using songs that were bound up in the local, regional identity.49 The Japanese
term min’yō ⺠ 謡 (folk song), coined by Mori Ōgai to translate the German word
Volkslied,50 was definitively adopted after being employed by Ueda Bin 上 ⽥ 敏
(1874‑1916), a poet, translator and scholar of English literature.51 The interest shown in
folk songs by these two individuals underlines the importance of min’yō as a subject of
reflection for the intellectuals driving Japanese modernity.
21 At the beginning of the twentieth century, having defeated “Great Russia” in the
Russo‑Japanese War (1904‑1905), Japan began to reassess its belief in the primacy of
“Western‑style” modernisation and set about searching for a specifically Japanese
modernity. In this context, in a continuation of the discourse on national music, the
debate on folk songs spread to early twentieth‑century musical thought. Folk songs also
became an important subject in the National Literature department at Tokyo Imperial
University, where Shida Yoshihide 志 ⽥ 義 秀 (1876‑1946), a student of Japanese
literature,52 published a series of articles promoting them as part of the Romantic
22 His work, which grouped together all “specifically Japanese” songs such as the
saibara pieces considered since the ninth century to be the songs of stable hands,54
allowed musicians from the Music Section to argue that the “specifically Japanese”
songs that made up part of their repertoire should be considered “folk music”, in other
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words specific to the Japanese people. In doing so they refuted the argument that
gagaku was a foreign music, performed only for and by an aristocratic elite, and
therefore ineligible as a “national music”.
23 Shiba Fujitsune 芝葛鎮 (1849‑1918), head of the court gagaku musicians during the
late Meiji period, wrote a new definition of gagaku in the Great Dictionary of National
History. In it he distinguished between “vocal pieces” (utaimono or utamono 歌物) and
“instrumental pieces” (kangen 管絃), placing folk songs in the category of utaimono.55
This definition was regularly re‑employed, for example by Tōgi Tetteki 東 儀 鉄 笛
(1869‑1925), a former court musician and teacher of Western music at Waseda
University, in the published version of his lectures given at that university.56

Tanabe Hisao: from acoustician to

24 While in the Meiji period it was essentially musicians who defined gagaku as a
“national” or “Japanese” music, in the Taishō period (1912‑1925) this role was taken up
by academics, notably under the influence of Tanabe Hisao.
25 Tanabe Hisao was born in Tokyo on 16 August 1883. He was adopted by a relative—
Tanabe Teikichi ⽥ 辺 貞 吉 , managing director of the Sumitomo Bank—following the
death of his mother in 1892. Having received a Suzuki violin from his adoptive father,
Tanabe was able to study music as soon as he began to show an interest in this
instrument during a secondary-school music class. He continued to study the violin as
an undergraduate student in the Faculty of Science and Technology at the First Higher
School (Ichikō ⼀⾼) in Tokyo. It was here that he discovered books on German music
theory thanks to meeting eminent specialists in the field such as Otsukotsu Saburō ⼄⾻
三 郎 (1881‑1934), who taught the aesthetics and history of music at Tokyo Music
School, and Ishikura Kosaburō ⽯倉⼩三郎 (1881‑1965), author of the first History of
Western Music (Seiyō ongaku shi ⻄洋⾳楽史) published in Japan.57
26 Tanabe’s family environment significantly influenced his education: very early on he
had access to a collection of entry‑level music books published in the United States,
such as How to Listen to Music: Hints and Suggestions to Untaught Lovers of the
Art (1897) by Henry Edward Krehbiel, and How Music Developed: A Critical and
Explanatory Account of the Growth of Modern Music (1898) by
William James Henderson.58 He also possessed a gramophone along with a
considerable collection of Japanese and Western music records, which he shared with
his adoptive father. This no doubt contributed to his success. Having been accepted at
the prestigious Tokyo Imperial University, Tanabe graduated top of his class from the
Physics Department in 1907. His final-year dissertation, entitled Acoustic Studies on
Wind Instruments (Kangakki no onkyōgaku teki kenkyū 管楽器の⾳響学的研究, 1907),
examined the 1863 book On the Sensations of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the
Theory of Music, written by the German physician and physicist
Hermann von Helmholtz (1821‑1894).59
27 At the time when Tanabe was beginning his studies on music, a certain number of
Japanese physicists were already working in the field. One such example is
Tanaka Shōhei ⽥ 中 正 平 (1862‑1945), an acoustician and Doctor of Science who
travelled to Germany in 1884 at the behest of the Ministry of Education and studied
under Helmholtz for approximately fifteen years at the University of Berlin. Upon his
return to Japan in 1899, he was inspired by the advice he had received from Helmholtz
to found the Institute for Research on National Music (Hōgaku Kenkyū‑jo 邦楽研究所)
in 1905, the aim being to study “Japanese music” by transcribing it using a Western
system of notation.60 Tanabe joined this institute in 1907, during his first year as a PhD
student at Tokyo Imperial University, and began to study Japanese music under
Tanaka. It was here that he began his career in research. Note that under the impetus of
the Meiji government many researchers and academics from Tanaka’s generation went
to study in Europe and the United States, whereas Tanabe, like many other scholars of
his age, studied and spent his entire career conducting research in Japan.
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The history of Japanese music from an

evolutionist perspective
28 Under the influence of Helmholtz, Tanabe’s study of Japanese music drew heavily on
an approach borrowed from the physical and natural sciences. In this sense, Tanabe’s
studies appear to be a variant of early twentieth‑century European musicology, which
was also heavily influenced by Helmholtz’s work. Beginning in 1909, Tanabe published
several articles in the Journal of Oriental Art and Science (Tōyō gakugei zasshi 東洋学
芸 雑 誌 ) on the subject of Chinese harmony and scale as the origins of gagaku. He
continued this research by comparing Western, Chinese and Japanese scales in a book
entitled The Principles of Music Studied from the Perspective of Modern Science
(Saikin kagakujō yori mitaru ongaku no genri 最 近 科 学 上 よ り ⾒ た る ⾳ 楽 の 原 理 ),
published by Uchida Rōkaku Ho 内⽥⽼鶴圃in 1916.

Figure 1. Tanabe Hisao ⽥辺尚雄

http://22982298.blog.fc2.com/blog-category-29.html (25 May 2014).

29 Nevertheless, the dominant view of Japanese music history in Japan at the time
made it particularly difficult to adapt Western musicology. Japanese music, with its
lack of fixed score, reduced focus on harmony, and relative invariability throughout its
history, was seen as incapable of being incorporated into the evolutionist view of music
history that prevailed in Helmholtz’s work and in the West in general. Thus, Japanese
arts like gagaku, Noh and Kabuki, seen as “national” arts because they were presented
as having passed through the ages unchanged, could not be the end result of a long
historical evolution. They stood as a kind of counterexample of evolutionist thought.
While it is certainly possible to categorise music chronologically according to historical
sources, as Konakamura Kiyonori ⼩中村清矩 (1821‑1895) did in 1888 in his pioneering
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study of Japanese music history,61 his failure to establish a connection between the
different genres made it impossible to follow the example of European history by
describing music as a phenomenon that had evolved from time immemorial to the
present day. Tanabe thus faced a challenge: namely, how to champion a view of music
as being necessarily fixed and unchanging if it is to be considered national, while
simultaneously incorporating music into an evolutionist perspective in line with the
scientific conventions of his time? He attempted to resolve this paradox in Lectures on
Japanese Music (Nihon ongaku kōwa ⽇本⾳楽講話), his first book on the history of
Japanese music considered from an evolutionist point of view, published by
Iwanami Shoten in 1919. In contrast to earlier studies, for example the previously cited
work by Konakamura, which simply juxtaposed various types of music according to
descriptions of them in historical sources, Tanabe proposed to consider the history of
Japanese music as an evolutionary process in which cultivated music imported from
overseas had been gradually “Japanized”. In this approach, he stressed the coexistence
of two contradictory types of kagura: an “underdeveloped” (mikaiteki 未 開 的 ),
“primitive” (genshiteki 原 始 的 ) kagura dating back to the mythical origins of Japan,
before the importation of foreign gagaku; and a more “formal” (keishikiteki 形 式 的 ),
“artistic” (geijutsuteki 芸 術 的 ) kagura recreated during the Middles Ages based on
foreign gagaku but with a “specifically Japanese spirit” (nihon koyū no seishin ⽇本固
30 At the same time as Tanabe, and despite being unable to find traces of it having been
performed before the Middle Ages (Heian period), the Music Section of the imperial
court stressed that the kagura it performed was directly linked to ancient times. This
unsubstantiated claim did not satisfy Tanabe’s scientific aspirations. According to his
evolutionist perspective, the noblest form of gagaku was not to be sought in primitive
expressions of this music, but rather in those derived from foreign importations
revisited by the Japanese spirit during the Middle Ages:

Kagura from the Middle Ages is completely different to kagura from ancient
times; it is a new art totally recreated during the second third of the Heian period,
with a Chinese form and a Japanese spirit.


31 In his eyes, it was this addition of a “specifically Japanese spirit” that had allowed
“cultivated” Chinese music to be assimilated and transformed into a “Japanese” music,
echoing the process of borrowing and assimilating Western music that had taken place
during the Meiji period. And it was by asserting this process and this Japanese spirit
that it became possible to speak of a truly national music capable of rivalling Western
music. However, despite this being his stated objective, Tanabe came to the conclusion
that the state of gagaku at that time did not make such an equivalence possible.
Although it could be seen as the result of a long evolutionary process, Japanese music
lacked one final characteristic:

Japanese music cannot possibly match Western music in terms of rationality. It is

infinitely less methodical than the music of Beethoven. However, this in no way
diminishes the value of Japanese music.


32 This comment illustrates what for Tanabe could be a potential “rational” weakness in
Japanese music compared to Western music, namely, the absence of a fixed score, its
relative harmonic simplicity, for example. But at the same time, he asserted the value of
this Japanese music, stressing that it was a national music created by a “specifically
Japanese spirit”.

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Preserving gagaku via sound recordings

33 Tanabe’s evolutionist theories found a notable application with the creation of a
gagaku compilation called the Heian Court Music Records (Heian-chō ongaku rekōdo
平安朝⾳楽レコード) or the Gagaku Records (Gagaku rekōdo 雅楽レコード. Recorded
in July 1920, it featured an accompanying booklet that sought to put forward a new
theory on gagaku.64
34 The instrumental role played by records in shaping both Tanabe’s career and his
views on music should not be underestimated. Indeed, Japan mirrored Western
countries in its introduction and increasingly wide distribution of the talking machine,
beginning with the invention of the sound recording in 1877 and followed by the
Edison-type wax cylinder phonograph in 1878 and Émile Berliner’s flat disc
gramophone in 1887.65 In 1920, Tanabe was already famous for his unparalleled
knowledge of all things gramophone and record related. In fact he gave a series of
music-themed lectures around Japan in which he played musical recordings on discs,
leading him to be nicknamed the “record presenter” (chiku-ben 蓄弁).66 In 1920 he was
also named adviser to the editorial committee of the magazine Music and the
Gramophone (Ongaku to chikuonki ⾳楽と蓄⾳器)67, then in 1923 he became one of the
main members of the Ministry of Education’s Record Selection Committee. He wrote a
number of highly successful guides to records, such as Music and the Contemporary
Lifestyle (Gendaijin no seikatsu to ongaku 現代⼈の⽣活と⾳楽, 1924) and Essential
Music to be Enjoyed at Home (Katei de ajiwau beki rekōdo meikyoku kaisetsu 家庭で
味ふべきレコード名曲解説, 1925), which were published with the aim of educating the
musical tastes of the urban middle class that had formed during the Japanese “Belle
Époque” in the 1910s and 1920s.
35 The gagaku record compilation came about at the initiative of Machida Kashō 町⽥佳
聲 (1888‑1981), a collector of folk music recordings and head of the Association for the
Preservation of [Japanese] Classical Music (Kokyoku Hozon Kai 古曲保存会). It was he
who asked Tanabe to produce the gagaku records and write the accompanying booklet.
To aid him in his task, Tanabe enlisted the Music Section of the imperial court, where
he gave lessons on music theory and the history of Western music.68 According to
Tanabe, eight musicians willingly accepted his request. The conditions stipulated by
Tanabe and Machida were as follows: each musician would play three two-hour sets per
day in return for a daily sum of ten yen.69 The selected pieces of music were recorded
onto twenty discs in an order that reflected Tanabe’s evolutionist chronology:

1. Ancient music peculiar to Japan (nihon koyū no jōko ongaku ⽇本固有の上古

⾳楽): two discs

2. Music from Goguryeo (koma-gaku ⾼麗楽): two discs plus one side
3. Music from China (shina no ongaku ⽀那の⾳楽): four discs plus one side
4. Music from the barbarians of Western China (shina seibu no igaku ⽀那⻄部
の夷楽): one disc plus one side
5. Music from India and Central Asia (indo oyobi chūō ajia no ongaku 印度及中
央アジアの⾳楽): five discs
6. Compositions almost completely recreated in Japan (nihon de daibubun
kaisakushita gakkyoku ⽇本で⼤部分改作した楽曲): one disc plus one side
7. Saibara (催⾺楽 “poems sung in Japanese”): two discs
8. Rōei (朗詠 “Chinese poems sung in a Japanese style”): one disc.70

36 In this way, Tanabe was able to set out his evolutionist theory by recording gagaku
onto discs in a sequence that reflected its “evolutionary order”.71 The records physically
presented gagaku according to a fixed evolutionary order, constructing in the process a
historical linearity and geographic unity:

1. From antiquity to the Suiko period (named after the empress who reigned
from 593 to 628)—music peculiar to Japan: kagura, kume-uta, kishi-mai 吉志
舞, azuma-asobi, yamato-mai, and so on.

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2. From the Suiko period to the first third of the Heian period (794‑1185)—music
imported from other Asian countries: chōsen-gaku 朝 鮮 楽 (Korean music),
shina-gaku ⽀ 那 楽 (Chinese music), indo-gaku 印 度 楽 (Indian music), and
nihon de maneta gaku ⽇本で真似た楽 (music created in Japan but imitating
styles imported from Asia).
3. From the second third to the end of the Heian period—music blending the
Japanese repertoire with a style imported from elsewhere: saibara, rōei and
imayō 今様.72

37 He thus categorised gagaku into three genres seen as representing three stages in its
evolution and as being capable of legitimising gagaku as the original Japanese music,
in line with the imperial ideology of the time. Tanabe’s stance also mirrored the opinion
of musicians within the Music Section, who held “specifically Japanese” kagura to be
the highest form of gagaku (despite Tanabe’s previously noted disagreement with these
musicians over the relationship of ancient kagura with newer forms). By referring to
the beginning of Japanese history in this way, Tanabe’s theory established gagaku as a
symbol both of Japan’s specificity and of its evolution.
38 The gagaku record compilation also clearly illustrates the influence of discs on
Tanabe’s musicological views and the importance he saw in this medium as a tool for
educating the population73 and establishing Japan’s musical heritage.

From national music to “Greater East

Asian” music
39 In January 1920 Tanabe received funding from the Keimei Foundation (Keimei-kai啓
明 会 ) for his “scientific research on the theory of oriental music”.74 Having initially
situated court gagaku at the beginning of Japanese history, Tanabe now placed it at the
beginning of world history. In November 1920, while studying the musical instruments
conserved at the Imperial Treasure House (Shōsō‑in 正 倉 院 ) in Nara, he put forward
the idea that the kugo 箜篌, a harp used in ancient gagaku, might date back as far as
the Old Assyrian Empire.75 This musical instrument allowed Tanabe to widen his field
of study both chronologically and geographically.
40 His early studies on “oriental music,”76 carried out in April 1921 in Colonial Korea,
aimed partly to verify his hypothesis on the kugo’s origins and partly to preserve the
gagaku belonging to the ancient court of the Joseon Dynasty (1392‑1910).77 The
initiative fell to the Government-General of Korea (and thus Japan), which asked the
Music Section of the Japanese court to save the Gagaku Department of the ancient
court of Korea. Ue Sanemichi 上 眞 ⾏ (1851‑1937), head of the Music Section and a
teacher at Tokyo Music School, passed the request on to Tanabe, who quickly left for
Korea, taking with him his recently released gagaku compilation. During his time in
Korea, Tanabe gave several lectures on Japanese gagaku with the aid of his discs. The
colonial government provided everything he needed to work comfortably and conduct
his research as he saw fit. Tanabe claimed that his work in Korea, which saw him
record, photograph, film and transcribe Korean gagaku using the Western notation
system, collect musical instruments, conduct radio broadcasts and inspire Korean
research on the subject, helped to safeguard this art as a musical heritage.78 However,
at the same time, the Japanese Government-General of Korea manifestly used the
safeguarding of Korean gagaku as a form of cultural propaganda designed to justify its
annexation of the peninsula and curry favour with the Joseon Court, particularly after
the Korean independence movement of 1919, known as San’ichi undo三⼀運動 (Samil
Undong or March First Movement).79 Note that Korea’s role in the Japanese study of
gagaku was twofold. Not only did some of the oldest pieces of gagaku hail from Korea,
placing the peninsula at the origins of this art in Japan, but in the early twentieth
century Korea also provided Japan—now a colonial power—with a laboratory for its
best specialists to test the most modern recording techniques and most innovative
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41 Although Korea was first on his list, Tanabe quickly began to conduct his research on
“oriental music” in Japan’s other colonial territories or those under Japanese rule.
These included Taiwan in the spring of 1922, Okinawa in the summer of 1922, China in
the spring of 1923, the Sakhalin peninsula and the Kuril Islands in the summer of 1923,
Manchuria in the spring of 1924, the Caroline Islands in the summer of 1934, and
Manchuria once again in the autumn of 1940. In China and Manchuria Tanabe’s
research focused specifically on ancient gagaku and he gave lectures that were
punctuated with excerpts of Japanese gagaku recordings. He saw his work as having
clear political implications, commenting that the Chinese protests against Japan on
National Humiliation Day,80 on 9 May 1923 in Beijing, were halted thanks to his lecture
on “The Value of Chinese Music”. During this lecture given at Beijing University,
Tanabe stated that Japan would return gagaku to China, from where it had
disappeared, if China thanked the Japanese imperial family for having safeguarded it.81
Tanabe further claimed that this lecture inspired research on “national music” in both
China and Korea.82 Tanabe’s reflections on oriental music appeared in his Study of
Japanese Music, published in 1926, which provided “a revolutionary interpretation of
the history of Japanese music drawing heavily on a comparative study of oriental
music”.83 In 1929 his Study of Oriental Music was awarded the Imperial Academy Prize
(Teikoku gakushiin shō 帝 国 学 ⼠ 院 賞 )84 and the following year he became the first
lecturer in Japanese music history at Tokyo Imperial University. He also served as
chairman of the Society for Research in Asiatic Music, founded in Tokyo in 1936 by one
of his students, the historian of East Asia Kishibe Shigeo 岸 辺 成 雄 (1912‑2005), and
Iida Tadasumi 飯⽥忠純 (1898‑1936), a historian of Islam.85
42 The framework for carrying out scientific research on “oriental music” was thus in
place. Writing in 1937, in the opening article for the first issue of the journal published
by the Society for Research in Asiatic Music, Tanabe stressed the importance of Asian
music being studied by Asian people themselves.86

Just as the proverb “ex oriente lux” (Out of the East, light) says, the brilliant
culture of the modern West was created from elements originally imported from
the East, which the West accumulated and developed over a long period before
reaping luxuriant flowers and abundant fruits.

And yet, since entering the twentieth century this brilliant modern Western
culture has begun to show signs of stagnation and decline… The sun that rises in
the East is currently setting in the West.

Today, the world is once again waiting for a light to come from the East. That is
why many Westerners have recently begun to make strenuous efforts to conduct
research on oriental culture. However, this research should be carried out by
Orientals themselves. It is time that we Japanese, in whom the Orient has placed
such hope, take the initiative in studying oriental culture!


傾向を⽰すに⾄った。[…] 東⽅より出でたる太陽は今や正に⻄⽅に没せんとし
つゝあ る。


Figure 2. “The Imperial Treasure House (Shōsō‑in) Kugo” (Shōsō in no kugo 正倉院の箜篌)

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“The Imperial Treasure House (Shōsō‑in) Kugo” (Shōsō in no kugo 正倉院の箜篌), a name given by Tanabe;
Ue Sanemichi 上眞⾏, Ōno Tadamoto 多忠基 and Tanabe Hisao, “Shōsō‑in gakki no chōsa hōkoku” 正倉院楽
器の調査報告 [Research Report on Musical Instruments Held at the Shōsō‑in], in Teishitsu hakubutsukan
gakuhō 帝室博物館学報 [Bulletin of the Imperial Museum], no. 5 (1921): appendix of illustrations).

Figure 3. “The Assyrian Kugo” (Asshiria no kugo アッシリアの箜篌)

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“The Assyrian Kugo” (Asshiria no kugo アッシリアの箜篌), name given by Tanabe; ibid.
43 However, despite Tanabe stating that “Orientals” must undertake research on the
Orient themselves, he failed to say how they should go about reclaiming this object of
study.87 For both Tanabe and Japanese musicologists alike, the initial task was thus to
redefine and specify what the musical sphere of the “Orient” was in relation to the
pre‑existing definition established by Western musicology. In fact, the academic study
of the Eastern world had been invented by the West and the term “oriental music”
always referred to “non‑Western music” indiscriminately, with no account taken of
geographical and cultural specificities.
44 Tanabe proposed a first definition in December 1941 by releasing a ten‑disc
compilation entitled East Asian Music (Tōa no ongaku 東 亜 の ⾳ 楽 ) with the record
label Columbia‑Nipponophone. This was not the first attempt to establish a compilation
of Asian music. In 1928, Erich von Hornbostel (1877‑1935) at the University of Berlin
had compiled a twelve-disc collection called Musik des Orients (Music of the Orient),
released by Parlophon‑Odeon.88 Tanabe was highly critical of Hornbostel’s collection,
which he deemed too “exotic”. Instead he underlined the need for an “authentic
compilation of oriental music,”89 meaning an anthology compiled by “Orientals”
themselves. The following year, in 1942, Tanabe followed up on his first attempt by
compiling a Greater East Asian Music Compilation (Daitōa ongaku shūsei ⼤東亜⾳楽
集成), a set of thirty‑six 78‑rpm records produced by the Society for Research in Asiatic
Music and released by Japan Victor Records, and Music of the South [of Asia] (Nanpō
no ongaku 南 ⽅ の ⾳ 楽 ), a set of six 78‑rpm records released by
Columbia‑Nipponophone.90The explanations and commentaries that accompanied

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Tanabe’s work were highly scholarly, bringing to mind the phonographic archives
established by the universities of Vienna and Berlin, and by the Musée de l’Homme
(Museum of Mankind) in Paris, institutions that had laid the foundations for scientific
research in the field of comparative musicology (known at the time as
ethnomusicology) in the early twentieth century.
45 The most important point to note is that Japanese music is entirely absent from all
three of these compilations of Greater East Asian music. And even though it is not
explicitly stated by Tanabe, “Japan” refers not only to the archipelago itself but also to
Korea and Taiwan, which were considered to be an integral part of the country. In the
explanatory booklet he wrote for East Asian Music, Tanabe sets out his reasoning:91

From a geographical point of view our country is part of East Asia. And from a
historical point of view, Japanese music is part of the history of oriental music.
However, we must look beyond the surface… because Japan lies at the heart of
Asia…. All the cultural roads, from ancient times to the present day, have
converged upon our country. All of these cultures have been preserved, unified,
assimilated and recreated by the Japanese spirit, thereby creating a specifically
Japanese culture. Today, Western culture, which has entered Japan, is also
helping to shape contemporary Japanese culture. Therefore, Japanese music is by
no means one kind of Asian music but rather its culmination; it is the aggregation
of world music.

⾒て東亜⾳楽の⼀部である とも⾔へる。然しその事を表⾯的に考へてはならぬ。
[…] 何故かといふに、⽇本はアジアの中⼼に位する。[…] 従つて太古より今⽇に

46 The make-up of this “oriental music” was not devoid of incoherence. A correlation
can be drawn here with the Greater East Asia Co‑Prosperity Sphere, which was the
Japanese government’s attempt in 1940 to establish an economic hold over the Asian
nations it dominated. “Greater East Asian Music” and “Greater East Asia Co‑Prosperity
Sphere” were both the fantasised products of Japanese colonialism and did not
correspond to any concreate reality. Accordingly, when Tanabe was required to give
meaning to this concept, it was to gagaku that he attributed the role of being the
“aggregation of world music” and the “music of Greater East Asia”:92

Gagaku alone can be recognised as the leader of Greater East Asian culture.
Having been imported from China, India and the South Pacific, refined and
developed in Japan over a thousand years, gagaku is respected by all countries as
being the music of Greater East Asia… I believe that no sooner has gagaku been
exported to Greater East Asia than it will be instrumental in unifying the music of
these countries.

のまゝ⼤東亜⾳楽として萬邦斎しく仰き⾒るものではある [...]。但し⼀旦これが

Gagaku as a national and universal

47 This is clearly the most idealised view of gagaku to have existed throughout its
history. Though one might have expected it to disappear after the shock of defeat
in 1945, its trace is still visible in postwar discourses, albeit in a different form. Whereas

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prewar gagaku was defined as the “music of Greater East Asia,” postwar gagaku was
held up as an “Important Intangible Cultural Property” of Japan:93

Of all our country’s classical music, it is gagaku that is respected the world over as
a universal art.


48 In short, gagaku found a new way of being universal. From an art capable of uniting
several Asian cultures through a shared past and common origins, it now adopted the
status of a world heritage recognisable for its singularity and long history.
49 In 1955 Tanabe was one of nineteen jury members responsible for selecting and
managing cultural properties in the performing arts section of the Committee for the
Protection of Cultural Properties (a position known in Japanese as bunkazai senmon
shingi iin ⽂化財専⾨審議委員), which was established by the Ministry of Education.
Tanabe’s view of gagaku’s history as consisting of three stages (ancient music,
imported music, Japanized music) and his belief that gagaku had existed right at the
origins of Japan and thus the world, is perfectly recognizable in the anonymous
commentary that accompanied the decision to honour gagaku94:

[Gagaku] is the oldest performing art in the world: it is a fusion of the ancient
music of our country with musical genres imported from Asia, which were then
Japanized around the Heian period. It has disappeared overseas and now exists
only in Japan. It is the source of all the musical genres performed throughout
Japan’s history.

[...] Only the Music Department at the Imperial Household Agency has preserved
this music in its authentic form and is able to perform it artistically.


[...] 正統に伝え、芸術的に演じ得るのは宮内庁楽部である。

Figure 4. Booklet accompanying the East Asian Music compilation

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Booklet accompanying East Asian Music, the record collection compiled by Tanabe Hisao. Tōa no ongaku 東
亜の⾳楽, (Tokyo: Columbia‑Nipponophone コロムビア・ニッポノフォン, 1941).

50 In this article I sought to conduct a step-by-step exploration of the way gagaku was
harnessed as a symbol of the national culture during each of the main chapters in
Japan’s modern history. During the Meiji period for example, as Japan sought to
establish itself as a nation‑state, we saw that gagaku was redefined as both court music
and popular music at the initiative of the Music Section at the imperial court. We then
saw how, at the turn of the century, the combined influence of contemporary Western
musicology and Tanabe Hisao—one of the individuals responsible for introducing it to
Japan—brought about a new view of gagaku as having three distinct registers (ancient
native music, imported music, Japanized music). This view made it possible to present
gagaku as being at once the oldest music of Japan and the most evolved. By skilfully
combining as it did imperial logic—the need for historical validation—with the
modernist and scientific ideology that characterised industrialised nations, this view
came to dominate during the 1910s and 1920s (the years of the Taishō democracy). A
few years later, still under Tanabe’s influence and with Japan in a conquering mood,

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gagaku found itself defined as the music of Greater East Asia on the basis that it was
the most elevated form of a shared musical heritage, an instrument capable of unifying
the various territories under Japanese domination. Finally, in a natural progression
from its previous definition, we saw how the postwar designation of gagaku as an
intangible cultural property came about as Japan attempted to build a national cultural
identity that oscillated between the two extremes of nationalism and universalism.
“Immutable” and “authentic” gagaku was henceforth forever listed as part of Japan’s
heritage, thereby contributing to creating the collective memory.
51 Generally speaking, people tend to see an abrupt change as having taken place
between prewar and postwar Japanese thought. In reality, however, after its defeat
Japan simply shifted to a “cultural nationalism” that replaced the prewar nationalism,
and this purportedly in the name of democracy. The reason for this is that under the
American occupation (1945‑1953), Japan was forced to seek to rise from its ashes using
the principles of “minzoku no fukkō ⺠ 族 の 復 興 ” (rebirth of the nation) and “bunka
kokka ⽂化国家” (a nation made strong by its culture).95 It is this historical context that
spurred the process, beginning in 1950, that led to gagaku being designated as a
national cultural property by the Ministry of Education in 1955. Just as other
intellectuals among the Taishō elite became conservative forces after the warm,96
Tanabe helped rebuild Japan’s postwar imperial culture and was thereby involved in
establishing this “cultural nationalism”. It was also students of his, notably
Kishibe Shigeo and Kikkawa Eishi 吉 川 英 史 (1909‑2006), who ensured the
development of Japanese music after the war. While it can certainly be argued that they
fought to “safeguard” Japanese music and assert its cultural identity as a means of
avoiding traditions being abandoned in the new society of American‑occupied Japan,
the granting of heritage status to gagaku also allowed Japan to forget its history of
musical colonisation and recast it in a more positive light by describing gagaku as a
cultural vestige of Asia. The history of modern Japanese music thus reflects the process
by which Japan has sought to assert its cultural identity since the end of the nineteenth

Figure 5. Booklet accompanying the Greater East Asian Music compilation

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Booklet accompanying the Greater East Asian Music compilation. Tanabe Hisao, Daitōa ken fūzoku shashin
shū. Fu: daitōa ongaku no tokusei ⼤東亜圏⾵俗写真集: 附: ⼤東亜⾳楽の特性 [Photo collection of folklore
from the Greater East Asia Co‑Prosperity Sphere. Appendix: The special characteristics of Greater East
Asia], Daitōa ongaku shūsei ⼤東亜⾳楽集成 [Greater East Asian Music Compilation] (Tokyo: Japan Victor
Records ⽇本ビクターレコード, 1942).


Selective list of publications by

Tanabe Hisao
Listed in order of publication, from the
earliest to the most recent
Onkyō to ongaku ⾳響と⾳楽 ([Acoustics and Music] (Tokyo: Kōdōkan 弘道館, 1908).
Seiyō ongaku kōwa ⻄洋⾳楽講話 [Lectures on European Music] (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten 岩波書
店, 1915).
Saikin kagakujō yori mitaru ongaku no genri 最近科学上より⾒たる⾳楽の原理 [The Principles
of Music Studied from the Perspective of Modern Science] (Tokyo: Uchida Rōkaku Ho 内⽥⽼鶴
圃, 1916).
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Nihon ongaku kōwa ⽇本⾳楽講話 [Lectures on Japanese Music] (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten 岩波
書店, 1919).
Gagaku Tsūkai 雅楽通解 [An Explanation of Gagaku] (Tokyo: Kokyoku Hozon Kai 古曲保存会,
Chōsen riōke no kogakubu: waga kyūchū no bugaku tono kankei 朝鮮李王家の古楽舞: 我が宮中
の舞楽との関係 [The Ancient Music and Dance of the Court of the Yi (Joseon) Dynasty in Korea:
Links with Bugaku from the Japanese Imperial Court], in Keimei kai daigokai kōen-shū 啓明会
第五回講演集 (Tokyo: Keimei‑kai 啓明会, 1921).
Nihon ongaku no kenkyū ⽇本⾳楽の研究 [Research on Japanese Music] (Tokyo: Kyōbunsha 京
⽂社, 1926).
Tōyō ongaku shi 東洋⾳楽史 [The History of Oriental Music] (Tokyo: Yūzan Kaku 雄⼭閣, 1930).
Tōyō ongaku no inshō 東洋⾳楽の印象 [Impressions of Oriental Music] (Tokyo: Jinbun Shoin ⼈
⽂書院, 1941).
Daitōa to ongaku ⼤ 東 亜 と ⾳ 楽 [Music and Greater East Asia] (Tokyo: Monbushō Kyōgaku
Kyoku ⽂部省教学局, 1942).
Daitōa no ongaku ⼤ 東 亜 の ⾳ 楽 [Greater East Asian Music] (Tokyo: Kyōwa Shobō 協 和 書 房 ,
1943; reprinted by Tokyo: Ōzorasha⼤空社 in 2003).
“Koten ongaku no bunka-zai toshite no kachi 古典⾳楽の⽂化財としての価値” [The Value of
Classical Music as a Cultural Property], Bunkazai geppō ⽂化財⽉報 [Monthly Report on Cultural
Properties], Bunkazai hogo iinkai ⽂化財保護委員会 [Committee for the Protection of Cultural
Properties], no. 1 (December 1951).
Nanyō Taïwan Okinawa ongaku chōsa kikō 南 洋 ・ 台 湾 ・ 沖 縄 ⾳ 楽 調 査 紀 ⾏ [Travelogue of
Music Research Carried Out in the South Pacific, Taiwan and Okinawa] (Tokyo: Ongaku no Tomo
Sha ⾳楽の友社, 1968).
Chūgoku chōsen ongaku chōsa kikō 中 国 ・ 朝 鮮 ⾳ 楽 調 査 紀 ⾏ [Travelogue of Music Research
Carried Out in China and Korea] (Tokyo: Ongaku no Tomo Sha ⾳楽の友社, 1970).
Tanabe Hisao jijoden ⽥辺尚雄⾃叙伝 [Autobiography of Tanabe Hisao] (Tokyo: Hōgaku Sha 邦
楽社, 1981).
Zoku Tanabe Hisao jijoden 続⽥辺尚雄⾃叙伝 [Sequel to the Autobiography of Tanabe Hisao]
(Tokyo: Hōgaku Sha 邦楽社, 1981).

Record compilations by Tanabe

Heian-chō ongaku rekōdo 平安朝⾳楽レコード [Heian Court Music Records], 20 discs (Heian-
chō Records 平安朝レコード and Imperial Records インペリアルレコード, 1921).
Tōa no ongaku 東 亜 の ⾳ 楽 [East Asian Music], 10 discs, S6001A-S6010B (Tokyo: Columbia-
Nipponophone コ ロ ム ビ ア ・ ニ ッ ポ ノ フ ォ ン , 1941; re‑released by Tokyo: Columbia Music
Entertainment in 1997, COCG‑14342).
Daitōa ongaku shūsei ⼤ 東 亜 ⾳ 楽 集 成 [Greater East Asian Music Compilation], 36 discs,
released in partnership with the Society for Research in Asiatic Music (Tokyo: Japan Victor
Records ⽇本ビクターレコード, 1942).
Tanabe Hisao, Kurosawa Takatomo ⿊澤隆朝 and Masu Genjirō 桝源次郎, Nanpō no ongaku 南
⽅の⾳楽 [Music of the South], 6 discs, S6016‑S6021 (Tokyo: Columbia‑Nipponophone コロムビ
ア・ニッポノフォン, 1942).

Related studies
B , Charles and Nattiez, Jean‑Jacques, “Petite histoire critique de l’ethnomusicologie” [A
Short Critical History of Ethnomusicology], Musique en jeu, no. 28 (1977): 26‑53.
F Kōki 藤井浩基, Ongaku ni miru shokuminchi ki Chōsen to nihon no kankei shi: 1920‑30
nendai no nihonjin no katsudō o chūshin ni ⾳楽にみる植⺠地期朝鮮と⽇本の関係史: 1920‑30年
代の⽇本⼈による活動を中⼼に [History of Relations between Colonial Korea and Japan from a
Musical Perspective: On Japanese Practices during the 1920s and 1930s], doctoral thesis in art
and culture芸術⽂化学 (Osaka: Osaka University of Arts, 2008).
O Shizue ⻑志珠絵, “Kokka to kokugaku no isō 国歌と国楽の位相” [Aspects of the National
Hymn and National Music] in Bakumatsu meiji ki no kokumin kokka keisei to bunka henyō 幕
末 ・ 明 治 期 の 国 ⺠ 国 家 形 成 と ⽂ 化 変 容 [Creation of the Nation-State and Cultural
Transformations during the Late Edo Period and the Meiji Period], ed. Nishikawa Nagao ⻄川⻑
夫 and Matsumiya Shūji 松宮秀治 (Tokyo: Shin’yōsha 新曜社, 1995), 455‑486.
T Naoko 寺内直⼦, Gagaku no “kindai” to “gendai”: keishō, fukyū, sōzō no kiseki 雅楽の
< 近 代 > と < 現 代 >: 継 承 ・ 普 及 ・ 創 造 の 軌 跡 [Gagaku during the “Modern Period” and the
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13/07/2020 Gagaku, Music of the Empire:Tanabe Hisao and musical heritage as national identity
“Present Day”: The path of transmission, diffusion and creation] (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten 岩波書
店, 2010).
U Yukio 植村幸⽣, “Tanabe Hisao to tōyō ongaku no gainen” ⽥辺尚雄と「東洋⾳楽」の概
念 [Tanabe Hisao and the Idea of “Oriental Music”] in Rekishi hyōshō to shiteno higashi ajia 歴史
表 象 と し て の 東 ア ジ ア , ed. Asakura Yūko 浅 倉 有 ⼦ and Jōetsu Kyōiku Daigaku Higashi Ajia
Kenkyū Kai 上越教育⼤学東アジア研究会 (Osaka: Seibundō 清⽂堂, 2002), 225‑239.
U Yukio 植 村 幸 ⽣ , “Nihonjin ni yoru Taiwan shōsū minzoku no kenkyū: Tanabe,
Kurosawa, Koizumi no gyōseki o chūshin ni” ⽇本⼈による台湾少数⺠族⾳楽の研究: ⽥辺・⿊
沢・⼩泉の業績を中⼼に [Japanese Research on the Music of Taiwan’s Ethnic Minorities: On the
Work of Tanabe, Kurosawa and Koizumi], Jōetsu kyōiku daigaku kiyō 上越教育⼤学研究紀要,
no. 22‑2 (2003), 301‑312.
W Hiroshi 渡 辺 裕 , Nihon bunka modan rapusodī ⽇ 本 ⽂ 化 モ ダ ン ラ プ ソ デ ィ ー
[Japanese Culture, Modern Rhapsody] (Tokyo: Shunjūsha 春秋社, 2004).
Y Masami ⼭住正⺒, “Gagaku to ten’nō sei: tokuni shōka kyōiku seiritsu ki o chūshin ni”
雅楽と天皇制︓とくに唱歌教育成⽴期を中⼼に [Gagaku and the Emperor System: The period of
the creation of singing classes at school], Rekishi hyōron 歴史評論, no. 602 (June 2000), 2‑13.

1 Kanpō 官報 (Official Gazette), 12 May 1955. Japan was the first country in the world to adopt
the designation of Intangible Cultural Property (mukei bunkazai 無形⽂化財). See Bruno N ,
The Western Impact on World Music: Change, Adaptation, and Survival (New York: Schirmer
Books, 1985). The UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage,
inspired by UNESCO’s Japanese Director-General, Matsuura Kōichirō 松浦晃⼀郎, was adopted
in October 2003 and modelled on the Japanese intangible heritage protection system;
Mariannick J , Patrimoine immatériel: Perspectives d’interprétation du concept de
patrimoine [Intangible Heritage: Interpretations of the concept of heritage] (Paris: L’Harmattan,
2006), 85‑86.
2 For more information on the history of the creation of modern Japan’s heritage and canons
in the field of literature and the arts, see S Dōshin 佐藤道信, “Nihon bijutsu” tanjō: Kindai
Nihon no “kotoba” to senryaku 〈⽇本美術〉誕⽣: 近代⽇本の「ことば」と戦略 [The Birth of
“Japanese Art”: The “language” and strategies of modern Japan], part of the Kōdansha Sensho
Mechie series 講 談 社 選 書 メ チ エ (Tokyo: Kōdansha 講 談 社 , 1996); Christophe M ,
“Conscience patrimoniale et écriture de l’histoire de l’art national” [Heritage Awareness and the
Writing of National Art History] in La Nation en marche [A Nation in Progress], ed.
Claude H and Jean-Jacques T (Arles: Picquier, 1999), 143‑162;
Christophe M , “Le Japon moderne face à son patrimoine artistique” [Modern Japan and
its Artistic Heritage], Cipango, special edition, “Mutations de la conscience dans le Japon
modern” [The Changing Conscience of Modern Japan] (spring 2002): 243‑304. On the subject of
Japanese literature, see H Shirane ハルオ・シラネ and S Tomi 鈴⽊登美 (ed.), Sōzō
sareta koten: kanon keisei, kokumin kokka, nihon bungaku 創造された古典: カノン形成・国⺠
国 家 ・ ⽇ 本 ⽂ 学 [Inventing the Classics: Canon formation, the nation-state and Japanese
literature] (Tokyo: Shin’yōsha 新 曜 社 , 1999); Emmanuel L , Littérature et génie
national: naissance d’une histoire littéraire dans le Japon du e siècle [Literature and National
Genius: The birth of a literary history in 19th century Japan] (Paris: Belles Lettres, 2005).
3 正統に伝え、芸術的に演じ得るのは宮内庁楽部である; Bunkazai Hogo Iinkai ⽂化財保護委
員会, “Gagaku,” List of Intangible Cultural Properties, Kikan Bunkazai 季 刊 ⽂ 化 財 [Quarterly
Report of Cultural Properties], vol. 3 (1955): 41.
4 See for example the entry for gagaku 雅 楽 in the dictionary Kōjien 広 辞 苑 , 6th edition
(Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten 岩波書店, 2008), 484.
5 See for example Nihon Ongaku Daijiten ⽇ 本 ⾳ 楽 ⼤ 事 典 [Dictionary of Japanese Music]
(Tokyo: Heibonsha 平凡社, 1989); Gagaku Daijiten 雅楽⼤事典 [Dictionary of Gagaku] (Tokyo:
Ongaku no Tomo Sha ⾳楽の友社, 1989).
6T Hisao, K Eishi 吉川英⼠ and H Hisao 平出久雄, “Nihon no gagaku,” ⽇
本 の 雅 楽 [Japanese Gagaku] in Ongaku Jiten ⾳ 楽 事 典 [Dictionary of Music], vol. 2 (Tokyo:
Heibonsha, 1955), 206‑216.
7 François P , La Musique chinoise [Chinese Music] (Paris: Minerve, 1991), 46 and 80.
8 Analects of Confucius (Lun Yu 論語), chapter 17, paragraph 18.
9 Ibid., chapter 13, paragraph 3. See Véronique A ‑J , “Avant‑propos,”
[Foreword] in Yueji 樂記: Le livre de musique de l’Antiquité chinoise [Yueji: The book of ancient
Chinese music], trans. Véronique A ‑J (Paris: You‑Feng, 2008), xiii.
10 Analects of Confucius (Lun Yu 論語), chapter 17, paragraph 18.
11 On the history of ancient gagaku, see O Mitsuo 荻美津夫, Nihon kodai ongaku shiron ⽇
本 古 代 ⾳ 楽 史 論 [Studies on the History of Ancient Japanese Music] (Tokyo:
Yoshikawa Kōbunkan 吉川弘⽂館, 1977), 27‑61.

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12 Shoku nihon-gi 続⽇本紀 [Chronicles of Japan, Continued], in the section dated earth‑dog
day (tsuchinoe inu), seventh month of the first year of Taihō (701).
13 O , Nihon kodai ongaku shiron, 16.
14 Ibid., 76-77. These musical genres are detailed in a document by the Council of State dated
month nine of the year 848.
15 Francine H , La Cour et l’Administration du Japon à l’époque de Heian [The Court and
Government of Heian Japan], (Geneva: Droz, 2006), 27 and 663‑666.
16 Musical style that also included “Champa music” (rin’yū-gaku 林 ⾢ 楽 ), named after the
kingdom located in central Vietnam, as well as Japanese compositions modelled on Tang music.
17 In addition to “Goguryeo music” proper, this included “Silla music,” “Baekje music,” and
“Balhae music” (bokkai‑gaku 渤海楽), named after the kingdom that was founded after the fall of
Goguryeo. Together these represent the entire range of musical styles from the Korean peninsula.
18 H , La Cour, 664.
19 O Mitsuo 荻美津夫, Heian-chō ongaku seidoshi 平安朝⾳楽制度史 [The History of Heian
Japan’s Musical Institutions] (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 1994), 24‑57 and 137‑228.
20 Ibid., 23.
21 O , Nihon kodai ongaku shiron, 17‑21.
22 N Matsunosuke ⻄⼭松之助, Iemoto no kenkyū 家元の研究 [Studies on the Iemoto
or Family System within the Arts] (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 1989), 161‑168.
23 For more information on the gagaku studies carried out during the Edo period, see
Ō Kunio ⼤ 築 邦 雄 , “Kinsei no gagaku kenkyū” 近 世 の 雅 楽 研 究 [Edo Period Gagaku
Studies], Ongaku‑gaku ⾳楽学 (Journal of the Japanese Musicological Society), 10‑3 (1964).
24 On the institutionalisation of gagaku during the Edo period, see O Tomoko ⼩川朝⼦,
“Kinsei no bakufu girei to sanpō gakuso” 近 世 の 幕 府 儀 礼 と 三 ⽅ 楽 所 [Ceremonies of the
Tokugawa Shogunate and the Sampō Gakusho during the Edo Period] in Chūkinsei no kokka to
shūkyō 中近世の宗教と国家 [Religion and the Early Modern State], ed. I Akira 今⾕明 and
Takano Toshihiko ⾼ 埜 利 彦 (Tokyo: Iwata Shoin 岩 ⽥ 書 院 , 1998), 407‑446; O Tomoko,
“Gakunin” 楽⼈ [Gagaku Musicians] in Geinō bunka no sekai 芸能⽂化の世界 [The World of the
Performing Arts Culture], ed. Yokota Fuyuhiko 横⽥冬彦(Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 2000),
25 On the revival and reorganisation of gagaku during the Edo period, see H Hisao 平出
久 雄, “Edo jidai no kyūtei ongaku saikō oboegaki,” 江⼾時代の宮廷⾳楽再興覚え書 [Essay on the
Revival of Court Music during the Edo Period], Gakudō 楽道 [The Way of the Arts] vols. 212‑215
(June to September 1959); T Yasuko 塚原康⼦, Meiji kokka to gagaku 明治国家と雅楽
[Gagaku and the Meiji State] (Tokyo: Yūshisha 有志舎, 2009), 15‑41.
26 M Sadanobu, “Zokugaku mondō 俗楽問答” [Dialogue on Popular Music; 1829] in
Rakuō-kō isho 楽翁公遺書 [Posthumous Collection of texts by Rakuō], ed. E Seihatsu 江間政
発, vol. 2 (Tokyo: Yao Shoten ⼋尾書店, 1893), 13‑34.
27 T , Meiji kokka, 47‑51.
28 Ibid., 42‑71. On the invention of imperial traditions, see T Hiroshi ⾼⽊博志, Kindai
tennōsei no bunkashiteki kenkyū: Tennō shūnin girei, nenchū gyōji, bunkazai 近代天皇制の⽂化
史 的 研 究 : 天 皇 就 任 儀 礼 ・ 年 中 ⾏ 事 ・ ⽂ 化 財 [Cultural‑Historical Research on the Modern
Emperor System: Enthronement ceremonies, seasonal rites and cultural heritage] (Tokyo:
Azekura Shobō 校 倉 書 房 , 1997); François M , “Le Shintō désenchanteur” [Disenchanting
Shintō], Cipango, special edition “Mutation de la conscience dans le Japon Moderne” [The
Changing Consciousness of Modern Japan] (spring 2002): 7‑70.
29 T , Meiji kokka, 195‑196.
30 Emperor Meiji’s attendance at a performance was a prerequisite for asserting the status of
an art form. This came about in 1874 for Noh and in 1887 for Kabuki, for example.
31 Ongaku ryakuge ⾳ 楽 略 解 [Brief Notes on Music], 1878. This book can be viewed at the
Archives and Mausolea Division of the Imperial Household Agency (Kunai‑chō Shoryō‑bu 宮内庁
32 T , Meiji kokka, 35.
33 Established in 1879, this institute was subsequently renamed the Tokyo Music School
(Tōkyō Ongaku Gakkō 東京⾳楽学校) in 1889 and was the forerunner of the present‑day Music
Department at Tokyo National University of the Arts (Tōkyō Geijutsu Daigaku Ongaku Gakubu
東京藝術⼤学⾳楽学部), founded in 1946.
34 Anne‑Marie T , La Création des identités nationales: Europe e‑ e siècle [The
Creation of National Identities in Europe: 18th‑20th century] (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1999),
139‑140. The concept of “national music” was first used in Japan by Kanda Kōhei 神 ⽥ 孝 平
(1830‑1898) in his paper “Kokugaku o shinkō subeki no setsu” 国楽ヲ振興スへキノ說 [On the
Need to Develop a National Music] Meiroku zasshi 明六雑誌, no. 18 (October 1874): 7‑8.

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35 See Benedict A , Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of
Nationalism (London and New York: Verso, 1991), 141‑162. See also the work of Jane F. Fulcher,
French Cultural Politics and Music: From the Dreyfus Affair to the First World War (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1999).
36 See the earlier section in this paper on the Confucian view of ritual and music.
37 O Yasuto 奥中康⼈, Kokka to Ongaku 国家と⾳楽 [Music and the State] (Tokyo:
Shūnjūsha 春秋社, 2008), 48‑59.
38 Dajōkan nisshi 太 政 官 ⽇ 誌 [Official Gazette of the Council of State], no. 75, 5th year of
Meiji (1872), new edition (Tōkyō‑dō Shuppan 東京堂出版, 1990), 188.
39 T , Meiji kokka, 42‑71.
40 Ibid., 79‑83.
41 Gagaku‑roku 雅楽録 [Official Register of Japanese Imperial Court Music], no. 10, 11th year
of Meiji (1878). These documents can be consulted at the Archives and Mausolea Division of the
Imperial Household Agency. For more information on gagaku at the Exposition Universelle
in 1878, see T , Meiji kokka, 144‑148; Inoue Satsuki 井上さつき, Ongaku o tenji suru:
Pari banpaku ⾳楽を展⽰する: パリ万博 1855‑1900 (Exhibiting Music: The world fairs in Paris,
1855‑1900) (Tokyo: Hōsei Daigaku Shuppankyoku 法政⼤学出版局, 2009), 196‑198.
42 Nihon gagaku gaiben ⽇本雅楽概弁 [A Summary of Japanese Gagaku], 1878. These nine
volumes of handwritten scrolls can be consulted at the Archives and Mausolea Division of the
Imperial Household Agency.
43 Gagaku-roku, no. 22, 11th year of Meiji (1878).
44 Sondra W H , “Music Teaching in the Boston Public Schools, 1864‑1879,”
Journal of Research in Music Education 40, no. 4 (Winter 1992): 316 and 326.
45 M Tanetarō, “Waga kōgaku ni shōka no ka o okosubeki shikata ni tsuite watakushi no
mikomi” 我公学ニ唱歌ノ課ヲ與スベキ仕⽅ニツキ私ノ⾒込 [My Expectations of How We Should
Create a Music Class in Japanese Public Schools], 20 April 1878, reprinted in Tōkyō Geijutsu
Daigaku Hyakunen Shi Henshū Iinkai 東京芸術⼤学百年史編集委員会 [Editorial Committee for
the 100‑year History of Tokyo University of the Arts], Tōkyō geijutsu daigaku hyakunen shi:
Tōkyō ongaku gakkō hen 東京芸術⼤学百年史: 東京⾳楽学校篇 [The 100‑year History of Tokyo
University of the Arts: Volume on the Tokyo Conservatory of Music], vol. 1 (Tokyo: Ongaku no
Tomo Sha, 1987), 15‑17.
46 See O , Kokka to Ongaku, 149‑151.
47 Ongaku torishirabe seiseki shinpō sho ⾳楽取調成績申報書 [Activity Report of the Music
Research Institute] (Music Research Institute, 1884), 67‑79 and 81‑99.
48 “Kokugaku seitei to gagaku kyōkai” 国楽制定と雅楽協会 [The Gagaku Association and the
Establishment of a National Music], Teikoku bungaku 帝 国 ⽂ 学 [Imperial Literature], 1‑3
(March 1895): General News section (zappō 雑報).
49 See Philip von B , “Landscape-Region-Nation-Reich: German Folk Song in the
Nexus of National Identity,” in Music and German National Identity, ed. C. A &
P. P (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 105‑27.
50 In his article entitled “Girisha no min’yō 希臘の⺠謡 (Greek Folk Songs), Shigarami zōshi
しらがみ草紙, vol. 35 (August 1892): 4‑5.
51 S Yoshikazu 品⽥悦⼀, Man’yōshū no hatsumei: Kokumin kokka to bunka sōchi to
shite no koten 万 葉 集 の 発 明 : 国 ⺠ 国 家 と ⽂ 化 装 置 と し て の 古 典 [The Invention of the
Man’yōshū: The nation-state and classical literature as a cultural device] (Tokyo: Shin’yōsha,
2001), 191‑195.
52 He worked under the supervision of H Yaichi 芳 賀 ⽮ ⼀ (1867‑1927), who studied
philology in Germany. For more information on the Department of National Literature at Tokyo
Imperial University and the role played by Haga, see S Yoshikazu, Man’yōshū no
hatsumei, 187‑196 and 210‑218; H Shigeyuki 花 森 重 ⾏ , “Kokubungaku kenkyū shi ni
tsuite no ichikōsatsu: 1890 nendai no Haga Yaichi o megutte” 国⽂学研究史についての⼀考察:
1890年代の芳賀⽮⼀をめぐって [An Analysis of the History of Research on National Literature:
Haga Yaichi during the 1890s), Ōsaka daigaku nihon gakuhō ⼤ 阪 ⼤ 学 ⽇ 本 学 報 , vol. 21
(March 2002): 71‑85. See also the work of Emmanuel L in Littérature et génie national.
53 S Yoshihide, “Nihon min’yō gairon” ⽇本⺠謡概論 [An Introduction to Japanese Folk
Songs], Teikoku bungaku 帝国⽂学 [Imperial Literature], 12‑2, 12‑3, 12‑5 and 12‑9 (1906).
54 The literal meaning of the word saibara 催 ⾺ 楽 is “music” (ra 楽 ) to “drive” (sai 催 )
“horses” (ba ⾺).
55 Kokushi daijiten 国史⼤辞典 (Tokyo: Y Kōbunkan, 1908), 543. Vocal pieces were
divided into the following genres: kagura-uta 神楽歌; kume-uta 久⽶歌, songs from the Kume
clan, which at the time Shiga wrote his article were performed to commemorate the
enthronement of Emperor Jinmu (kigensetsu 紀 元 節 ); azuma-asobi 東 遊 , songs sung on the
anniversary of the death of Emperor Jinmu and during the two equinoxes; ta‑uta ⽥ 歌 ,
rice‑planting songs sung at the Great Feast of Enthronement (daijō‑e ⼤嘗会); yamato‑uta ⼤和
歌 , songs from the Yamato region which were also sung at the Great Feast of Enthronement;
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utagaki 歌垣, songs sung between men and women, and for which no mention exists after 770;
saibara 催⾺楽; rōei 朗詠; fuzoku ⾵俗, folk songs from various provinces, also sung at the Great
Feast of Enthronement; and kuzubito-uta 国 栖 ⼈ 歌 , literally “songs from the people of Kuzu,”
which are mentioned only in ancient texts like the Kojiki or the Nihonshoki.
56 T Tetteki 東 儀 鉄 笛 , Ongaku nyūmon ⾳ 楽 ⼊ ⾨ [Musical Initiation] (Tokyo: Waseda
Daigaku Shuppan-bu 早稲⽥⼤学出版部, 1910).
57 T Hisao, Tanabe Hisao jijoden ⽥ 辺 尚 雄 ⾃ 叙 伝 [Autobiography of Tanabe Hisao]
(Tokyo: Hōgakusha 邦楽社, 1981), 158‑159 and 235‑236.
58 Ibid., 150.
59 Ibid., 215. Studying music from an “objective,” scientific point of view for the first time, this
book heavily influenced European musicology during the second half of the nineteenth century.
Hermann von H , Die Lehre von den Tonempfindungen als physiologische Grundlage
für die Theorie der Musik (Braunschweig: Friedrich Vieweg und Sohn, 1863). English translation
by Alexander J. Ellis (London: Longman, 1875). Musicology (Musikwissenschaft) was presented
for the first time as a discipline modelled on the Newton‑style natural sciences in an article
published by the German periodical Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung in Leipzig, entitled “Über
Musik als Musikwissenschaft” [On Music as Musicology], in March 1827. This approach to the
subject was systematised in the early twentieth century by Guido Adler (1855‑1941)—a
musicologist at the University of Vienna and student of Helmholtz Carl Stumpf (1848‑1936)—and
Hugo Riemann (1849‑1918). On the birth of musicology in Europe, see John H ,
“Généalogies musicologiques aux origines d’une science de la musique vers 1900” [Musicological
Genealogies: At the Origins of a Science of Music around 1900], Acta musicological 73, no. 1
(2001): 21‑44.
60 On Tanaka’s conception of national music, see H Tomoko 平 塚 智 ⼦ , “‘Hattatsu’
suru nihon ongaku: Tanaka Shōhei no risō to riron o megutte”「発達」する⽇本⾳楽: ⽥中正平の
理 想 と 実 践 を め ぐ っ て [The “Development” of Japanese Music: On the ideas and theories of
Tanaka Shōhei), Hikaku bungaku kenkyū ⽐較⽂学研究 [Research on Comparative Literature],
no. 71 (1998): 109‑128.
61 K Kiyonori ⼩中村清矩, Kabu-ongaku ryakushi 歌舞⾳楽略史 [A Brief History
of Music, Song and Dance] (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Hanshichi 吉 川 半 七 , 1888; reprinted in 1928
and 2000 in the Iwanami Bunko series by Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten 岩波書店).
62 Underlining by T , Nihon ongaku kōwa (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1919), 69.
63 Underlining by T , Nihon ongaku kōwa, 341.
64 T , Gagaku tsūkai 雅楽通解 [An Explanation of Gagaku] (Tokyo: Kokyoku Hozon Kai
古曲保存会, 1921).
65 For more information on the history of the phonograph’s invention, see Philippe T ,
Du Phonographe au MP3 : Une histoire de la musique enregistrée – e‑ e siècle [From the
Phonograph to the MP3 Player: A History of Recorded Music from the 19th to the 21st century]
(Paris: Autrement, 2008), 11‑18.
66 T , Meiji ongaku monogatari 明治⾳楽物語 [A Musical History of the Meiji Period]
(Tokyo: Seiasha ⻘蛙社, 1965), 299‑303.
67 As of August 1922, this publication took over the helm from The World of the Gramophone
(Chikuonki sekai 蓄⾳器世界), the first magazine devoted to records in Japan, founded in 1915.
68 T , Zoku Tanabe Hisao jijoden 続 ⽥ 辺 尚 雄 ⾃ 叙 伝 [Sequel to the Autobiography of
Tanabe Hisao] (Tokyo: Hōgakusha, 1981), 84‑88.
69 Ibid., 86.
70 T , Gagaku Tsūkai, 138‑168. The record sleeves and sound recordings have all been
digitised and are available on the website of the Digital Archive of 78 RPM Records (SPレコード
デジタルアーカイブ), run by the Research Centre for Traditional Japanese Music at Kyoto City
University of Arts (Kyoto Shiritsu Geijutsu Daigaku Nihon Dentō Ongaku Kenkyū Sentā 京都市⽴
芸 術 ⼤ 学 ⽇ 本 伝 統 ⾳ 楽 研 究 セ ン タ ー ), http://neptune.kcua.ac.jp/cgi-bin/kyogei/index_sp.cgi
(link valid November 2016).
71 Hattatsu no jō kara 発達の上から; T , Gagaku Tsūkai, 15.
72 T , Gagaku Tsūkai, 18.
73 The educational role of the phonograph was explored by Mark Katz, who compared the way
American schools used phonographs in the early twentieth century to teach children to listen to
and appreciate “real music” or “good music”, and the use of group singing in nineteenth-century
musical education; Mark K , Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005) 61.
74 “Tōyō ongaku riron no kagakuteki kenkyū” 東 洋 ⾳ 楽 理 論 の 科 学 的 研 究 ; Zaidan hōjin
keimei-kai daisankai taishō kyūnendo jigyō hōkokusho 財団法⼈啓明会第三回⼤正九年度事業報
告書 [Third Annual Report of the Keimei‑kai Foundation, Taishō 9 (1920)] (Tokyo: Keimei‑kai,
1921), 29‑31.
75 U Sanemichi 上眞⾏, Ō Tadamoto 多忠基 and T Hisao, “Shōsō‑in gakki no chōsa
hōkoku” 正 倉 院 楽 器 の 調 査 報 告 [Research Report on the Musical Instruments Held at the
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Shōsō‑in], Teishitsu hakubutsukan gakuhō 帝室博物館学報 [Bulletin of the Imperial Museum],
no 5 (1921).
76 For a discussion of Tanabe’s musical studies as “ethnomusicology,” see H Shūhei
細 川 周 平 , “In Search of the Sound of Empire: T Hisao and the Foundation of Japanese
Ethnomusicology,” Japanese Studies, vol. 18 (May 1998): 5‑19.
77 T , Chōsen riōke no kogakubu: waga kyūchū no bugaku tono kankei 朝鮮李王家の古
楽舞: 我が宮中の舞楽との関係 [The Ancient Music and Dance of the Court of the Yi (Joseon)
Dynasty in Korea: Links with Bugaku from the Japanese Imperial Court], in Keimei-kai daigokai
kōen-shū 啓明会第五回講演集 [Fifth Collection of Lectures by the Keimei-kai] (September 1921):
78 T , Zoku tanabe hisao jijoden, 120‑121.
79 See U Yukio 植 村 幸 ⽣ , “Shokuminchiki chōsen ni okeru kyūtei ongaku no chōsa o
megutte: Tanabe Hisao ‘Chōsen gagaku chōsa’ no seijiteki bunmyaku” 植⺠地期朝鮮における宮
廷⾳楽の調査をめぐって: ⽥辺尚雄『朝鮮雅楽調査』の政治的⽂脈 [Research on the Court Music
of Korea under Japanese Rule: The Political Context of Tanabe Hisao’s ‘Research on
Joseon Gagaku’], Chōsen shi kenkyūkai ronbun-shū 朝鮮史研究会論⽂集, vol. 35 (1997): 117‑144,
in particular 134‑138; Y Hanako ⼭ 本 華 ⼦ , Ri ōshoku gagaku bu no kenkyū:
shokuminchi jidai chōsen no kyūtei ongaku denshō 李王職雅楽部の研究: 植⺠地時代朝鮮の宮廷
⾳ 楽 伝 承 [Research on the Gagaku Department of the Joseon Dynasty: Transmission of Court
Musical Tradition under the Japanese Occupation], doctoral thesis in musicology (Tokyo
University of the Arts, 2008), 146‑169.
80 Day of protest for the return of Port Arthur and Dairen, which were leased by China to
Japan as part of the Twenty-One Demands issued by Tokyo in 1915.
81 T Hisao, “Ongaku kara mita tōa kyōei ken” ⾳楽から⾒た東亜共栄圏 [The Greater
East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere seen from a Musical Perspective] in Tōyō ongaku no inshō 東洋
⾳楽の印象 [Impressions of Oriental Music] (Tokyo: Jinbun Shoin ⼈⽂書院, 1941), 88‑93.
82 T Hisao, Chūgoku chōsen ongaku chōsa kikō 中国・朝鮮⾳楽調査紀⾏ [Travelogue of
Music Research Carried Out in China and Korea] (Tokyo: Ongaku no Tomo Sha, 1970), 318‑319.
83 広く東洋⾳楽の⽐較研究に基づき、⽇本⾳楽史の上に⾰命的の解釈を与えたものである;
T , “Introduction,” Nihon ongaku no kenkyū ⽇本⾳楽の研究 [Research on Japanese Music]
(Tokyo: Kyōbun-sha 京⽂社, 1926).
84 Nihon gakushiin hachijūnen shi ⽇ 本 学 ⼠ 院 ⼋ ⼗ 年 史 [Eighty‑Year History of the Japan
Academy] (Tokyo: Nihon Gakushiin ⽇本学⼠院, 1963), 278‑280.
85 K Shigeo 岸辺成雄, “Tōyō ongaku gakkai sanjū nen shōshi” 東洋⾳楽学会三⼗年⼩史
[Brief History of the Thirty Years of the Society for Research in Asiatic Music], Tōyō ongaku
kenkyū 東洋⾳楽研究 [Research on Oriental Music], vol. 19 (1966): 63‑80.
86 T Hisao, “Sōkan ni saishite” 創刊に際して [On the Occasion of the Inaugural Issue],
Tōyō ongaku kenkyū 東洋⾳楽研究, 1‑1 (November 1937): 3.
87 Researchers working at the same time as Tanabe, such as Shiratori Kurakichi ⽩ ⿃ 庫 吉
(historian of the Orient and Honorary Chair of the Society for Research in Asiatic Music, 1865-
1942) and Watsuji Tetsurō 和辻哲郎 (philosopher, 1889-1960), also responded to the problem of
orientalism by calling for “Orientals” to reclaim the subject for themselves. See K Sang-jung,
Orientarizumu no kanata e オリエンタリズムの彼⽅へ [Beyond Orientalism], Iwanami Gendai
Bunko 岩波現代⽂庫 (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2004), 133-162.
88 Erich Moritz von H , Music of the Orient (1928), set of twenty-four 78‑rpm
records, re‑released by Folkways Records (part of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and
Cultural Heritage in Washington) in 1979. Compilation reference FW04157.
89 T , Tōa no ongaku 東亜の⾳楽 [East Asian Music], set of ten 78‑rpm records (Tokyo:
Columbia‑Nipponophone コロムビア・ニッポノフォン, 1941), pages 1‑2 of the accompanying
90 These three compilations featured music from the following countries and regions (names
are those used during Tanabe’s time): for East Asian Music, Manchuria, China, Mongolia, Java,
Bali, Thailand, India, Iran (which Tanabe called “Ancient Persia”); for A Collection of Greater
East Asian Music, Manchuria, Mongolia, China, French Indochina, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia,
India, Indochina, Southwest Asia; for Music of the South, Thailand, French Indochina, Malaysia,
Burma, Sumatra, and Bali.
91 T , Tōa no ongaku, 7‑8 of the accompanying booklet.
92 Daitōa to ongaku ⼤東亜と⾳楽 [Music and Greater East Asia], published in March 1942 as
part of a collection established by the Educational Affairs Bureau (Kyōgaku‑kyoku 教学局), which
reported directly to the Ministry of Education. The citation appears on pages 21‑22.
93 This is particularly notable in an article written by Tanabe, entitled “Koten ongaku no
bunka‑zai toshite no kachi” 古典⾳楽の⽂化財としての価値 [The Value of Classical Music as a
Cultural Property], Bunkazai Geppō ⽂ 化 財 ⽉ 報 [Monthly Report by the Committee for the
Protection of Cultural Properties] no. 1 (December 1951): 6.

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94 Bunkazai Hogo Iinkai ⽂化財保護委員会, “Gagaku,” List of Intangible Cultural Properties,
Kikan bunkazai 季刊⽂化財, vol. 3 (1955): 41.
95 Carol G , “The Past in the Present,” in Postwar Japan as History, ed. Andrew G
(Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1993), 66‑95.
96 A group known as the “Old Liberalists”; T Tsutomu 都 築 勉 , Sengo nihon no
chishikijin 戦後⽇本の知識⼈ [The Intellectuals of Postwar Japan] (Yokohama: S Shobō 世織
書 房 , 1995), 123‑124; O Eiji ⼩ 熊 英 ⼆ , “Minshu” to “aikoku” 「 ⺠ 主 」 と 「 愛 国 」
[“Democracy” and “Patriotism”] (Tokyo: Shin’yōsha, 2002), 175‑208.

List of illustrations

Title Figure 1. Tanabe Hisao ⽥辺尚雄

Credits http://22982298.blog.fc2.com/blog-category-29.html (25 May 2014).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cjs/docannexe/image/1268/img-1.jpg
File image/jpeg, 36k
Figure 2. “The Imperial Treasure House (Shōsō‑in) Kugo” (Shōsō in no
kugo 正倉院の箜篌)
“The Imperial Treasure House (Shōsō‑in) Kugo” (Shōsō in no kugo 正倉院
の箜篌), a name given by Tanabe; Ue Sanemichi 上眞⾏, Ōno Tadamoto

Caption 多忠基 and Tanabe Hisao, “Shōsō‑in gakki no chōsa hōkoku” 正倉院楽器
の調査報告 [Research Report on Musical Instruments Held at the
Shōsō‑in], in Teishitsu hakubutsukan gakuhō 帝室博物館学報 [Bulletin of
the Imperial Museum], no. 5 (1921): appendix of illustrations).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cjs/docannexe/image/1268/img-2.jpg
File image/jpeg, 100k
Title Figure 3. “The Assyrian Kugo” (Asshiria no kugo アッシリアの箜篌)

Caption “The Assyrian Kugo” (Asshiria no kugo アッシリアの箜篌), name given by

Tanabe; ibid.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cjs/docannexe/image/1268/img-3.jpg
File image/jpeg, 107k
Title Figure 4. Booklet accompanying the East Asian Music compilation
Booklet accompanying East Asian Music, the record collection compiled
Caption by Tanabe Hisao. Tōa no ongaku 東亜の⾳楽, (Tokyo:
Columbia‑Nipponophone コロムビア・ニッポノフォン, 1941).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cjs/docannexe/image/1268/img-4.jpg
File image/jpeg, 99k
Title Figure 5. Booklet accompanying the Greater East Asian Music compilation
Booklet accompanying the Greater East Asian Music compilation.
Tanabe Hisao, Daitōa ken fūzoku shashin shū. Fu: daitōa ongaku no
tokusei ⼤東亜圏⾵俗写真集: 附: ⼤東亜⾳楽の特性 [Photo collection of
Caption folklore from the Greater East Asia Co‑Prosperity Sphere. Appendix: The
special characteristics of Greater East Asia], Daitōa ongaku shūsei ⼤東亜
⾳楽集成 [Greater East Asian Music Compilation] (Tokyo: Japan Victor
Records ⽇本ビクターレコード, 1942).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/cjs/docannexe/image/1268/img-5.jpg
File image/jpeg, 152k

Electronic reference
Seiko Suzuki, « Gagaku, Music of the Empire:
Tanabe Hisao and musical heritage as national identity », Cipango - French Journal of Japanese
Studies [Online], 5 | 2016, Online since 15 July 2019, connection on 13 July 2020. URL :
http://journals.openedition.org/cjs/1268 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/cjs.1268

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About the author

Seiko Suzuki
Paris Diderot University – Paris 7 / University of Tokyo


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