When we think of composers, we usually envision an isolated artist separate from the orchestra—someone alone in a study, surround by staff paper—and in Europe and America this image generally has been accurate. For most of Japan’s musical history, however, no such role existed—composition and performance were deeply intertwined. Only when Japan began to embrace Western culture in the late nineteenth century did the role of the composer emerge. In Composing Japanese Musical Modernity, Bonnie Wade uses an investigation of this new musical role to offer new insights not just into Japanese music but Japanese modernity at large and global cosmopolitan culture.
Wade examines the short history of the composer in Japanese society, looking at the creative and economic opportunities that have sprung up around them—or that they forged—during Japan’s astonishingly fast modernization. She shows that modernist Japanese composers have not bought into the high modernist concept of the autonomous artist, instead remaining connected to the people. Articulating Japanese modernism in this way, Wade tells a larger story of international musical life, of the spaces in which tradition and modernity are able to meet and, ultimately, where modernity itself has been made.
The rulers of the Mughal Empire of India, who reigned from 1526 to 1858, spared no expense as patrons of the arts. They left as their legacy an extraordinarily rich body of commissioned artistic projects, including illustrated manuscripts and paintings that represent music-making in numerous spheres of Mughal court life, particularly that of women. These images form the basis of Bonnie C. Wade's study of how musicians of Hindustan encountered and Indianized music from the Persian cultural sphere.
Combining ethnomusicological and art historical methods with history and lore, Wade focuses first on paintings for Akbar, showing how political and cultural agendas intertwined in the portrayal of his life and that of his grandfather Babur and father, Humayun. Wade then follows the depictions of music-making through paintings for Akbar's successors, Jahangir and Shah Jahan, to trace the gradual synthesis of Persian and Indian culture. Richly illustrated with reproductions of rare Mughal paintings, this work will appeal broadly to anyone interested in Indian history, ethnomusicology, and art history.