- The Society for Research in Asiatic Music (Toyo Ongaku Gakkai, TOG)
- 東洋音楽研究 (ISSN:00393851)
- vol.1983, no.48, pp.189-190,L16, 1983-09-30 (Released:2010-02-25)
During the last four years, two of which were spent in West Germany as a Humboldt scholar and two of which have been spent back here in Japan, my various experiences and research projects have given me a new insight into approaches to two problems, the further development of which seems to be my immediate task at the present moment. The first of all is the construction of a theory of “double emics”, which will become a central part of a topic with which I have been concerned for many years, namely, ethnomusicology as an ethnoscience. The second deals with the possibility of a new type of historical ethnomusicology, using diatronic indicators derived from ethnoscience, that will be inherently different from historical and musico-historical studies of the past.My time spent overseas was perhaps most valuable in that it forced me to reexamine my attitudes towards the so-called “etic” (scientific and objective) methods supposedly employed in studies of foreign music cultures. I have become rather suspicious of the supposed “objectiveness” that we are capable of employing in these situations. It seems unlikely to me that there is anyone who can thoroughly ignore the perspectives and methods of thinking that he has developed over the years and which have been shaped by his personal experience. If it is impossible to escape the binds of this acquired method of viewing things, then we cannot help being subjective in our perspectives. If it is true that only culture-carriers (i.e. members of a given culture) can have a truly “emic” perspective of that culture, students of the music of cultures other than their own face a difficult task in either trying to become temporary members of the society that they are studying, or in reverse, maintaining an independent perspective, although this often leads to the unfortunate phenomenon often seen in Western studies whereby a student of another culture uses the standards of his own culture to perform a so-called “etic” and “objective” evaluation of that culture. I think that it is necessary for us to strive towards the development of a double-layered “emic” approach, in which, while applying an emic approach to the music of a certain culture (or even sub-culture within a culture), we retain our own subjectivity as Japanese (or whatever), developing a Japanese method of thinking that will function as an emic approach on a second layer.The second problem, that of developing an historical ethnomusicology using diatronic indicators derived from ethnoscience, is one I have only begun formulating, the concrete realization of which is still incomplete. What can be said at the moment, however, is that aside from the written documents—historical records, musical manuscripts, etc.—that have been used in historical studies of music until now, there exists an enormous, perhaps even more important body of unwritten materials, such as oral tradition and transmission as reflected in the knowledge of the performers of the music and the actual performance itself, which can and must be used as historical source material. The historical perspectives sought for using this material do not necessarily denote those developed in the West, that is, the tracing of an absolute chronology of an aspect of culture, but may be more of the nature of a relative study of the large-scale cultural shifts to be seen within the culture. A planned study of the music of Oceania may prove to be an invaluable opportunity for developing an appropriate methodology for using non-written historical materials.