Friday, November 30, 2012

Dee Lusk and Japan

The idea of interface refers to a multifaceted concept that is defined by, but not limited to, things like connecting to, adapting to, combining with, blending with, integrating with, meshing with, merging with, or becoming a part of, a particular entity, which may be similar to the given subject, or may be entirely foreign to it. In this blog entry, my purpose is to explain how the development of koto music in Japan became interfaced with that country’s culture, and to juxtapose the evolution of my LLM’s musical interface with South Texas/American society. Bonnie Wade, in Music in Japan, highlights several aspects of koto’s history by telling the story of Keiko Nosaka, the most famous contemporary master of the instrument’s genre. Wade believed that the gradual popularization of this ancient idiophone, championed by musicians like Nosaka, necessitated interface with the modernization occurring in all areas of Japanese life over the last century. Long standing training by an iemoto in a private home has shifted, not so recently, to institutionalized training schools and universities. Keiko’s “Special Study” degree from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts is a prime example of interface with the educational community. Nosaka’s decision to join the Ensemble Nipponia in 1965 gave her a platform from which she furthered the elevation of the koto to even greater relevancy by increasing its strings from the original thirteen to an unheard of twenty-five by 1969. Wade delineates several instances of interface as she traces the koto’s history. She takes special care to illuminate the recurring points of group identity and repertoire, kotoists connections with other internal musical spheres, and embracing of the interface with international music. Discussed by the author are the repertoire of Tsukushi-goto, the ryu of Yatsuhashi, compositions like Rokudan, and numerous changes that came about by relentlessly challenging the status quo. Dee Lusk, whether unknowingly or deliberately, has tackled the issue of interface extremely effectively. To illustrate this fact, I will reference Dee’s bold decisions to develop original music and not remain satisfied with the humdrum existence of membership in a cover band. His success as a songwriter cannot be overlooked as he adapted his music to the changing times. His embracing of the internet that was undertaken with construction of his website was a quantum leap into modern technology. I offer as well the connection with the dramatic scene that resulted inevitably from Dee’s study and certification in theater arts. As he embarked upon his venture into teaching acting to his adolescent neophytes, he began composing much of the incidental music for his productions, and assumed the responsibility of running the soundboard for his performances. These are just three of the many circumstances I could cite as proof of Lusk’s courage to color outside the lines and transform dreams into reality; in other words, his capacity to interface.

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