Academic journal article Psychomusicology

From Electrical Engineering to Psychology of Music: Autobiographical Reflections on My Research and Collaboration in the Japanese Context

Academic journal article Psychomusicology

From Electrical Engineering to Psychology of Music: Autobiographical Reflections on My Research and Collaboration in the Japanese Context

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT - A passion for radio engineering and an interest in music led the author to studies in electrical engineering followed by research positions in audio engineering at NHK, the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation. NHK afforded him the rare opportunity of investigating single-cell recording from auditory neurons of the cat. The experience inspired his development of models of hearing. Later he played a primary role in the invention of the 3-1 multi-channel sound standard for HDTV in Japan. His theoretical and applied background provided a strong foundation for an academic position in the Department of Music at Kyoto City University of Arts. Here, he supervised around 100 graduate theses on a wide variety of topics in music psychology. With Japanese colleagues, he also promoted the field of music psychology both in Japan and internationally, through translation into Japanese of several key books on music psychology, organizing conferences, and establishing the Japanese Society for Music Perception and Cognition.

BACKGROUND AND CAREER PATH

Ohgushi was born in 1938 in Nagasaki prefecture which is located in the southern part of Japan. At that time, his father worked as a physician at the Navy hospital in Sasebo city in Nagasaki prefecture. The next year, his father changed his residence to China with his family, but they returned to Japan after the end of the Second World War. After the war, most Japanese people were very poor. Ohgushi always felt hungry as many Japanese children did. Yet, as an elementary school student, he received piano lessons from his mother using a piano of his elementary school. In those days, very few families had a piano at home. He was also interested in playing baseball and collecting postage stamps. Later, as a high school student (12-18 years old), he was very much interested in building radio receiver sets with vacuum tubes, playing baseball and listening to music through radio sets of his own making. He was especially eager to design and build new radio sets.

When he was 16 years old, he made up his mind to go on to university to study the theory of radio engineering in detail. In 1957, he took the entrance examination of Kyoto University, one of the traditional National Seven Universities in Japan. Fortunately, he passed the entrance examination for the department of electric engineering. He was especially interested in studies of electronic wireless communication and electronic circuit theory. After a four-year undergraduate course, in 1961, he presented a graduation thesis on a microwave parametric (variable reactance) amplifier for wireless space communication. In Japanese universities, there were extracurricular activities such as the baseball club, basketball club, orchestra, chorus, piano club and so on. Ohgushi belonged to the piano club and took some piano lessons from a professional pianist. At the concert of the piano club members, he enjoyed performing several challenging pieces. These musical adventures included performances of Haydn's Piano Concerto in D Major (the second piano part was played by a friend) and Mozart's Violin Sonata K.2g6, in C Major (the violin was played by another friend, one of the members of the student orchestra).

In those days, most university students entered Japanese companies just after completion of a fouryear university course. In 1961, Ohgushi joined NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) which had excellent technical research laboratories for radio and TV research in Tokyo. The laboratories had about 10 research divisions and a research staff of about 250 persons. He wished to work in the technical research laboratories. However, newcomers were, as a general rule, assigned to a local broadcasting station and were required to work there for no less than three years. At first, he was assigned to Matsuyama broadcasting station far from Tokyo. He worked mainly as a sound engineer. He gained experience in recording of sound for music, drama, and outdoor events of broadcasting programs. …

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