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Colloquium Series Participants Bios and Abstracts - March 15, 2012

Western Notation: A Japanese Tradition? Development of Art Song and Performance in Japan
Paul Wetzig


The first accounts of western art music in Japan came with Portuguese missionaries in 1549. As Christianity was outlawed by the Shogunate, the followers had to worship in silence, but still used hymns brought by the Portuguese missionaries.  As trade increased with the west, more people with compositional training started to come to Japan.  During the Meiji era (1868-1912), western style notation was taught in Japan.

The style of Yogaku developed during the Meiji era. In Japanese, Yo meaning ocean and Gaku meaning music, so loosely translated "music from across the ocean."  A number of Japanese composers became famous during this time, including Rentaro Taki, the first great Japanese composer and pianist of western art music, and Kosaku Yamada, student of Hugo Wolf and acclaimed composer. This presentation will explore how these two composers fused Japanese culture with western classical art music.


Paul Wetzig is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance at Kent State University. He is a student of Tim Culver, and his past roles include Beast in Beauty and the Beast, the King in Cinderella, the King in Once Upon a Mattress, and made his opera debut in the chorus of Kent State University's production of Semele. Paul has also performed with the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra, and as a Soloist for the Shawnee State University Chorus and the Shawnee State University Community Chorus.

Artifact or Autopoeisis: Examining Music Using Nketia's Cultural Factor Approach
Laurel Myers Hurst


In Anthropology of Music (1964), Alan Merriam defines music as a product of human behavior in cultural context. As such, music is an artifact subject to interpretation and analysis. Ethnomusicological analysis leads to hypotheses about the generative processes in music making (i.e. symbolically encoded musical products are created by particular musical behaviors endemic to certain cultural contexts). Tim Rice nuances the method for inductive esthesic analysis of musical products in his 1987 article "Towards the Re-modeling of Ethnomusicology." The argument that individual creation, historical construction and social maintenance influence the formal properties of musical products and performances opens new fields of inquiry in ethnomusicological discourse.

However, these analytical models miss when it comes to the moment that musicians say, "The music just seemed to take on a 'life of its own.'" Music as a product of human behavior can replicate or serve as a sign of certain aspects of its creator, but music, as demonstrated by jazz improvisation or performance-composition in some African contexts, also manifests sufficient processes within it to maintain the whole.  By examining music as both a self-existing whole and as a subsidiary of its cultural context I intend to demonstrate how J.H. Kwabena Nketia's cultural factor approach (2005) can arrive at the moment of genesis where cause and creation meet.


Laurel Myers Hurst is a 2010 Master of Ethnomusicology graduate of Kent State University.  She serves as adjunct faculty at regional KSU campuses.  Laurel also acquired her bachelor's degree at Kent State studying voice with James Mismas.  She maintains an active voice studio and conducts choral clinics for sacred and secular choirs.  Laurel has done field research among communities in crisis including the Assyrian Church of the East, Christian missionaries to pre-Communist Era China and unregistered Christian churches currently operating in the People's Republic of China.  Her current research deals with conceptualization of African rhythm and its theoretical application to African-derived popular music.

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