The Yomiuri ShimbunOSAKA — When producer Naoki Tachikawa read an article about 30 years ago predicting vinyl record production would cease in the future, he strongly believed the culture needed to be preserved. The article prompted him to donate 17,000 records from his collection to Kanazawa Institute of Technology (KIT) in Kanazawa.
Based on Tachikawa’s donation, the institute founded the Popular Music Collection at its library in 1992. The number of items in the collection has since expanded to 240,000, thanks to donations from music critic Ichiro Fukuda (1925-2003) and many other enthusiasts around the nation.
As a supervisor, Tachikawa has chosen the best of the best from the PMC for an exhibition looking at the history of popular music and the evolution of the 20th century.
“Sekai o Kaeta Record Ten” (Exhibition on records that have changed the world) is currently under way in the Knowledge Capital tower at Grand Front Osaka in the city of Osaka through July 23.
About 5,000 precious record covers are on display, including “Elvis Presley” (1956) by Elvis Presley; “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (1967) by The Beatles; “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” (1972) by David Bowie; and “The Dark Side of the Moon” (1973) by Pink Floyd.
Tachikawa, who was born to a music-loving family in Asakusa, Tokyo, started writing sleeve notes at around 20, launching his career as a music critic. He went on to buy more and more records.
Before the advent of records, music was appreciated mainly by wealthy people who listened to live performances, Tachikawa said. The development of vinyl LPs in 1948 made it easier for anyone to listen to music.
Popular music in the 20th century expanded into various genres, such as jazz, rock and pop.
“Had it not been for records, music culture wouldn’t have been so fortunate,” Tachikawa said.
The exhibition is split into four sections, and the first one features famous remarks by musicians. In another, visitors can appreciate highly artistic record covers.
Tachikawa pointed out that cover designs also attracted people to vinyl. “Records were the first art objects that the general public could easily get a hold of,” he said. “Music and record cover designs were often in sync with the times, but distanced themselves at others.”
The main feature of the exhibition is a long and winding wall that chronicles the history of popular music — about 4,000 entries are written, such as the releases of historically important records and major social events.
Tachikawa said he particularly wanted to create this account for the exhibition.
“The 50-meter-long chronicle shows the historical changes from a wide perspective — from what kind of music was born and accepted in what era, to what kind of audio equipment was produced and changed the music scene,” he said.
He pointed to 1969, when the legendary Woodstock Music & Art Fair took place in New York as a symbol of counterculture. That same year, China was in the midst of its Cultural Revolution.
The layout of the exhibition was designed by about 20 students at KIT’s college of environmental engineering and architecture, most of whom had never even touched a record before. They began their preparations in a storage house near the institute about three months before the start of the exhibition. Senior student Akari Ishida, 21, said she began chatting about music with her rock-loving father more often than before.
Tachikawa described the elation of placing the needle down to start the music as a “distinctive feeling you can only have with a record.”
“I hope this exhibition offers visitors an opportunity to think about the joys of being able to appreciate record culture and the time in which vinyls were born, as well as the pleasure of being able to appreciate music,” he said.