July 23, 2011

The Culture of Music

Continuing the spirit of countries, as reflected in the conversation about Independence day, Tomoko talks about culture’s impact on music. “I have a student from India. Each country has a traditional music. The people in each country meet for a unique reason. During their gatherings a special harmony is produced, and even the way to perform that ritual music is unique.” Tomoko then relates that national or cultural experience to art. You can imagine a museum in that country. Its art reflects the county’s geography, its lifestyles, its artistic sensibilities. So when you listen to the sound of a country, you are one step closer to its art. Both of these creative expressions reflect the country.”

Tomoko sees the importance of experiencing music through the lens of a country, and comparing those different expressions. She suggests: “Compare Christmas songs from different countries. They are a way to connect with culture.”

Tomoko relates some of her own musical experiences as she has traveled in different countries. “In a Korea donut shop you might hear cello sonata music. In Korea you find good singing performance. Koreans see singing as a discipline. In Japan they have high-class music. The rules of music are very important, just as the direction of kimono is important. In Japan people are not supposed to show their emotions; their expressions are like a mask. Similarly, their approach to music is more technical rather than emotional.”

Tomoko then compares how people relate to music in France. “In France each person has a chance to shine, to be individual. Musicians ask: Why should I perform music the same way as another person?” Tomoko perceives another attitude in German music. “The Germans have a proverb: The weed is stronger than the flower. The weak, the fragile, have to do more than show up when playing music; they cannot stay in their safe zone. Instead, German performers know that they have to practice repeatedly; constant discipline is needed. They are never satisfied until they are strong, overcoming any musical challenges.”

You can hear the feelings of the country in Tomoko’s performance of several piano pieces that were inspired by traditional melodies such as Chopin's Polanaise a A flat major and Glinka's Masurkas. Enjoy them on the Touria album, available at https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/tomokohagiwara13.