Education About Asia

Music as a Gateway to Learning about East Asia

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Introduction: Music and Cultures

Music can be an enticing gateway to other cultures, and because music is more than just sound, it can lead to learning about the people who produce the music. Music—the sound—is a scientific phenomenon that can be measured, documented, and replicated. Music—the phenomenon—has meaning it acquires through the culture that produces it, and to understand music—from our own or from a foreign culture—it is vital to learn about music the phenomenon. When we learn about music the phenomenon we learn about history, geography, values, environment, government, and other aspects of culture, and thus it is a legitimate and serious way to approach the study of culture and history.

Classroom Resources for Teaching East Asian Music

Berger, Donald P. Folk Songs in Japan. New York: Oak Publications, 1972.

Kyrova, Magda. The Ear Catches the Eye: Music in Japanese Prints. Leiden, The Netherlands: Hotei Publishing, 2000.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Columbia University, Asia for Educators Program, Visual Media Center. The Qianlong Emperor’s Southern Tour: Scroll Six. Last modified, 2005, Accessed November 13, 2011. http://bit.ly/u4LasZ.

Naritaya. Naritaya Official Website. Last modified, 2009. Accessed November 13, 2011. http://www.naritaya.jp/english/. (Website for Ichikawa Ebizo and Ichikawa Danjūrō)

Pecore, Joanna, Ken Schweitzer, and Yang Fan. “Telling the Story with Music: The Internationale at Tiananmen Square.” Education About Asia 4, no. 1 (1999): 30–36.