jazz research paper

jazz research paper - Jonathan Cheng LAB 82 Patterson...

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Jonathan Cheng LAB 82 Patterson 1/10/07 Nihon Jazu: Jazz in Japan, Legitimacy and Legacy What does one first think when first given the two subjects of Jazz and Japan? From a strictly cultural perspective, the uninformed may find it hard to believe the two subjects are even related. After all, it is hard to believe that Jazz, an entity that symbolizes freedom, rebelliousness, and creativity, could survive in a culture that is so strictly dictated by a hierarchical system of tradition that is so ingrained into society, even the language distinguishes between informal and honorific speech. A slightly more informed individual with a rudimentary knowledge of Jazz may write off Japanese Jazz as unoriginal or unimaginative. While the basis of this argument is not unfounded, defining Japanese Jazz as unoriginal simply because it originates from outside America, or because some Japanese artists choose to imitate the styles of certain well known American Jazz musicians, is simply incorrect. The first argument can be refuted simply by the statement that Jazz is a universal language. Its authenticity is not derived from the location of its inception, nor is it defined by the color of the skin of the musicians playing it, although these two attributes are unfortunately so readily used in just such a way. The second argument would be factually true if referring to decades past in Japan’s Jazz history; however, it certainly does
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not describe the current state of events in Japan. Others may suppose, just as I first did, that Jazz is a foreign influence, an American influence, which finds small cracks in the hard facade of Japanese society to reside in and small points of society where it can work its influence. However, they would be wrong as well. Jazz from its introduction, has not simply been a small part of American culture that Japan has brought with it throughout its history, but rather an initially American influence that has fully assimilated into Japanese culture, growing and changing along with Japanese and American history, to the point where the presence of Jazz in Japan is astounding, and can be found to have an influence in other aspects of Japanese culture as well as Western culture. Not only this, but Japanese Jazz has reached a level of acceptance so as to garner respect from American fans and musicians alike for both its Jazz environment and its musicians. In order to properly do justice to this argument, a basic knowledge of the history of Jazz in Japan is necessary. I will attempt to give a brief history of the subject while bringing up points of interest as they arise. The immigration of Jazz was due to a number of reasons. The integration of the international entertainment market, the inclusion of Japan in post World War 1 economics, and Japanese and American individuals traveling back and forth from both countries, sharing culture, customs, and Jazz all played a part in exposing the Japanese to Jazz. 1
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course JAP Bb taught by Professor Kageyama during the Spring '08 term at Harvard.

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jazz research paper - Jonathan Cheng LAB 82 Patterson...

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