UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE)

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Research Studies in Music Education (RSME)
Name(s) of Author/Editor(s): 
Imada, Tadahiko
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The term modernization in the West has been typically used to describe all modern developments of industrialization and mechanization. Western modernization was originally advocated in the nineteenth century by a class of citizens called the bourgeoisie who attempted to become independent of the dominant political powers and the authoritarian state in Europe. In order to develop European social structure, several thinkers, including Descartes, Hegel and Marx, played important roles, by criticizing the human desire to propose a style of modern European ethics. The Japanese nineteenth century, however, differed fundamentally from the nineteenth century of the West. The concept of 'man' or 'meaning' in nineteenth century Europe was absent from Japan. In the last years of the nineteenth century, Japan originally imported certain Western practices using their basic adaptive capabilities with some urgency and speed for survival to offset American colonial ambitions. The introduction of Western music education in Japan was a policy that was cleverly engineered by the Meiji Restoration Government in order to westernize the Japanese nation. The music curriculum in Japan has been based on Western aesthetics and many teachers have blind faith in the 'power and glory' of Western music. However, both structuralist and post-structuralist theories show us that the European aesthetics does not have any autonomous power which can apply to all musical cultures around the world. Thus, the 'power and glory' of music should be re-examined, and any concepts which can possibly bring exteriority to open the closet are urgently needed. Since the official Japanese music curriculum called the 'Course of Study' (COS) is based on this Western notion of aesthetics, the COS itself should genealogically be re-examined. In order to clarify these issues, some ontological and epistemological analysis of modern music education, more particularly in Japan, will be provided.
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