Music of Japan
UCSD — Summer I — MUS13AS
General Information
  • instructor:
  • required readings:
  • times:
  • location:
  • final exam time:
  • final exam location:
  • office hours:
  • office location:
  • Andrew Allen []
  • Music in Japan, by Bonnie Wade
  • Monday / Wednesday, 2:00pm to 5:00pm
  • CPMC 136
  • August 3rd, 3:00pm to 6:00pm
  • TBA
  • Monday / Wednesday, 5:00pm to 6:00pm or by appointment
  • Perks (UCSD Bookstore)

In this quarter, we will cover music of the past and present from, around and concerning Japan. We will discuss in-depth how these musics work (both structurally and culturally), as well as how they relate to larger global contexts. Students will be tested primarily on their critical listening and analysis skills and will be expected to assemble a project that reflects their research (Replaces the final exam requirement).


Students will be expected to complete nightly reading and listening assignments as well as a final project. They will be tested on their homework with in-class quizzes. They are also expected to participate in class discussions, and their projects will be graded based on their creative and/or scholarly merit.

  • Homework Quizzes:
  • Participation:
  • Final Project:
  • Total:
  • 25% (Twenty-five percent)
  • 25% (Twenty-five percent)
  • 50% (Fifty percent)
  • 100%
Grading Rubric
  • 97 - 100:
  • 93 - 96:
  • 90 - 92:
  • 87 - 89:
  • 83 - 86:
  • 80 - 82:
  • 77 - 79:
  • 73 - 76:
  • 70 - 72:
  • 67 - 69:
  • 63 - 66:
  • 60 - 62:
  • 0 - 59:
  • A plus
  • A
  • A minus
  • B plus
  • B
  • B minus
  • C plus
  • C
  • C minus
  • D plus
  • D
  • D minus
  • F

Academic honesty is extremely important. Failure to acknowledge your sources for quotations, paraphrases, or ideas consistently and completely is plagiarism. You are expected to produce original work in this course. If you copy the words of another author (from a book, article, website, etc.) without quoting and citing the source, you are committing plagiarism--the appropriation or imitation of the language or ideas of another person and presenting them as your original work. If you buy or borrow a paper written by another person, you are cheating and plagiarizing. Neither will be tolerated under any circumstances. If you are uncertain about proper documentation of sources, you should consult with the TAs and me. Plagiarism/cheating will result in an F for this course and will be reported to the Academic Integrity Office.


Choose a scholarly and/or artistic medium familiar to you. (Eg. A short paper, Some visual artwork, A song, Composed music, A website, A video game, Dance/movement, Theatre/Acting, A short film, A cuisine, Poetry, Live Performance, etc.). All students will need to get their projects approved by the professor by the 3rd week of classes. In order to be approved, abstract proposals sent via email must be sent to the professor which outlines the project as well as providing samples/documentation of the student's previous experience in the chosen medium. The scope/scale of the projects may be adjusted by the professor (Eg. if the student chooses to write peotry, the professor may request either 1 long poem or several short poems). All students and professors must complete a project by the end of the quarter.

7/2: Introduction

Overview of the class, introduction to upcoming topics, discussion of various musical and ethnographical terms used in the class.

Readings: Wade, Chapter 1

7/4: Independence Day (No Class)

Class resumes on 7/9. Be sure to do all required readings and listenings and think about your projects and potential group members!

7/9: Traditional Court and Folk Music

Ancient History of Japan court and folk musics. The introduction of musical instruments. Buddhism, Zen and Court music influences. Discussion of Shomyo, Heikebiwa, Koto, Sankyoku and Gagaku musics. Analysis of Rokudan, Heikebiwa, Etenraku.

Readings: Wade, Chapters 2 and 3

7/11: Traditional Theatre

History of theatre in Japan and its political and religious affiliations. Discussions of Samurai theatre (Noh), Puppet theatre (Bunraku) and Popular Theathre (Kabuki). Analysis of famous Kabuki stories.

Readings: Wade, Chapter 4

7/16: Contemporary Classical & Film Music

Discussion of Western Classical music influences in Japan. The "Neo-Classical", "Avant-Garde" and "Neo-Romantic" styles and artists that represent these styles. Analysis of the film music of Hisaishi-Joe for Hayao Miyazaki's popular films.

Readings: Wade, Chapter 5


7/18: J-Pop, Enka and Idoru

History of popular music, its development as folk and eventual departure with the advent of Western cultural influences and the struggle of Japanese musical identity. Discussions of popular music artists of pop, enka and idoru. Analysis of several song forms used in pop music.

Readings: Wade, Chapter 6

7/23: J-Rock, Visual Kei, Punk and Japanoise

History of Rock and Western influences, discussion of visual kei, heavy metal, rock opera, death metal, punk and noise artists. Discussion of gender, violence and the gaze in music. Analysis of Versaille's Masquerade and others

Listening: [grooveshark]

7/25: Jazz and Exotica

History of Japanese jazz, including discussions of big-band, blues, exotica, free-jazz and fusion arists. Discussion of relevant artists in these fields. Analysis of Akira Sakata's saxophone solos and others.

Listening: [grooveshark]

7/30: Hip-Hop and Electronic music

Underground currents and development of rap, hip-hop and DJs in Japan. Discussions of figures in R&B, House/ Trance, Synthrock and Techno. Analysis of Yellow Magic Orchestra's Rydeen and the lyrics/flow of various rappers.

Listening: [grooveshark]

8/1: Video Game & Theme music

Discussions of video game audio technology, notable artists and composers and cultural symbology and metaphor in "theme" music. Analysis of Akira Yamoaka (Silent Hill), Nobuo Uematsu's (Final Fantasy) series and others.

8/3: Final Exam: Project Presentations

Presentations of student and professor group projects. Includes short performances, demostrations and readings. Full Attendance is mandatory.

</c>2012 Andrew Allen. All rights given.