Japanese sounds have followed a different path in their use and development. Like the sounds of instruments from the West they play a part in the composition of melodies but, more importantly, Japanese sounds have lived along with us for a long time, existing for very specific purposes separate from music: for spiriting away and praying for peace. This use is particularly notable with many percussion instruments.
In this special talk, Prof MOTEGI Kiyoko, one of the leading specialists and researchers of Japanese sound (Oto), will introduce and demonstrate in real time some examples of Oto and the musical objects identified in Japanese life, discussing how these have evolved and have come to be associated with Japanese faith and culture.
After Prof. MOTEGI’s presentation, there will be a discussion with Dr Lucia Dolce, Numata Professor of Japanese Buddhism at SOAS University of London, and Chair of the SOAS Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions.
These traditional instruments may be replaced by advanced technology which prevents disasters and pandemics. However, it is interesting to learn what our predecessors believed in and struck to pray for a better world, and how that mindset and customs still survive in contemporary Japan.
About the speakers
MOTEGI Kiyoko is a musicologist born in Yamanashi Prefecture in 1949. She graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts and, following her work as a director assistant at the National Theatre from 1976 to 1981, she became a teacher of Japanese music. She is now professor emerita at Joetsu University of Education. MOTEGI is currently a member of the Arts Council Tokyo Evaluation Committee. She serves as an expert advisor and a selection committee member for the Japan Biwa Music Competition. MOTEGI specializes in the study of traditional Japanese music but is particularly familiar with the instruments of kuromisu music in kabuki, Buddhist music, and various instruments used in folk performing arts. Her major books include Japanese Traditional Sound Sources and Japanese Sake Brewers’ Songs.
Dr Lucia Dolce is Numata Professor of Japanese Buddhism at SOAS University of London, and Chair of the SOAS Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions. Her work combines archival research and extensive fieldwork to explore hermeneutical and ritual practices of religion in Japan. She has published extensively, in English and in Japanese, on Buddhist traditions of the Lotus Sutra and Tantric Buddhism, Shinto-Buddhist combinatory cults and the visual dimension of religion in Japan.