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Transnationalization, Particularization and National Identity in Court Ceremonial Music of East Asia: Yayue, Aak and Gagaku

Hiroku Nagai


In his discussion on the contemporary global music scenes, Trimillios
(2009) defined transnationalization as “music whose production and
creation take place in a number of national states, a condition that has
major implications for national identity, ownership and cultural rights.”
Although the use of advanced technology demarcates contemporary
transnationalization, music has been continually moving across the
borders in the history. Particularly, ancient ceremonial music of Chinese dynasties was eagerly learned and adopted by people in other Asian countries. It became the essential repertoire of court music of Korea (ku gak), Vietnam (nha nhac) and Japan (gagaku), which officially represent the “national” music of the three countries today. This consequently coincided with the complex process of creating the national identity of music, in which the constructed national music tradition inherently embraced foreignness within it. This lecture focuses on music of guzheng of China and koto of Japan. The prototype of the instrument was introduced from China to Japan in the 7th century CE together with other gagaku instruments, and later independently developed into the two music traditions with clear national identities. The lecture discusses the issues of transnationalization, ancient as well as contemporary, and particularization of guzheng and koto through live performances. It features Ms. Liu “Christina” Xiao Fang, guzheng player and the Chinese Director of Confucius Institute at Ateneo de Manila University.


Transnationalization; Chinese ceremonial music; yayue, aak, and gagaku

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