Japan is a culture of strong contrasts. Rapid advances in technology are balanced with the careful preservation of traditions in music, dance, theater, painting, sculpture, woodwork, ceramics, and other arts. One of the most remarkable of these traditions is that of Gagaku (雅楽), the music of the Japanese Imperial Court. Unlike Western notation, Gagaku is a tablature system, in which each of the instruments has a separate notation, with each symbol representing a finger position on the instrument.
Join Robert Garfias, a distinguished ethnomusicologist, online to learn more about a particular Gagaku manuscript now on display at the Fowler in Communications Systems in a Global Context. He will discuss the notation for the Sho, a bamboo mouth organ with 17 pipes.
Robert Garfias studied at San Francisco State University, then completed his graduate work at UCLA in Ethnomusicology. He went on to teach at and direct the graduate program in Ethnomusicology at the University of Washington. Garfias served as Dean at UC Irvine for six years, as well as professor of Anthropology. He was a presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts and a member of the Council of the Smithsonian Institution. In May 2005, in recognition of his life’s work, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by the Emperor of Japan—one of the highest honors bestowed on a non-Japanese citizen.
Lunch & Learn: The Fowler’s Lunch & Learn series offers easily digestible explorations of charismatic objects from around the world. Join us to chew on some sustenance and feed your mind and soul.
Image: Shun Tei Raku (春庭楽; Music in a spring garden), mid-20th century; leather binding, paper, ink; Ethnomusicology Archive, Herb Alpert School of Music