Spirituality as a universal experience of music: A case study of North Americans' approaches to Japanese music

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Abstract

Ethnomusicologists and music educators are in broad agreement that what makes each cultural expression of music unique are differences, not commonalities, and that these should be understood in culturally sensitive ways. Relevant to the debate was the emphasis on the socio-cultural context of music making over the traditional “sound-only” approach. In this study, North American practitioners of shakuhachi music provided a different angle on the view of music as culture-specific. What made these practitioners interested in shakuhachi playing were not so much cultural aspects of Japanese music as universal aspects of human experience identified in Japanese music, such as the feeling of being part of nature and the revitalization of humans’ organic sensitivities. For them, the cultural served as a hindrance to accessing the underlying spirituality of Japanese music. From their perspective, the opposite of the sound-only approach was not necessarily posited as a sociocultural approach but as a spiritual or physical approach that transcended cultural boundaries. Copyright © 2011 National Association for Music Education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-289
JournalJournal of Research in Music Education
Volume59
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011

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Citation

Matsunobu, K. (2011). Spirituality as a universal experience of music: A case study of North Americans' approaches to Japanese music. Journal of Research in Music Education, 59(3), 273-289. doi: 10.1177/0022429411414911

Keywords

  • Spirituality
  • World music education
  • Globalization
  • Recontextualization
  • The shakuhachi