Sounding Nippon: Identity, Meaning and Music Scenes in Contemporary Japan


ACLS Fellowship Program


Music, East Asian Studies, and Anthropology

Named Award

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow named award


This project considers how varied music scenes in Japan, generated by genres such as nagauta (a type of chamber music), trance-electronica, and wadaiko (Japanese drumming), share similar ideological grounding, processes of identity building, and performance practices. Ethnographic exploration of the ways in which scenes are actually performed, referring to all aspects of social behavior, reveals how people shape both individual and collective identity, ultimately finding meaning through shared understanding of defining characteristics. This project thus uniquely compares both traditional and popular music styles, providing a richer understanding of the sounds inhabiting contemporary Japan, and in turn offering new approaches to the study of identity and meaning in music more broadly.