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Presence Through Sound: Music and Place in East Asia

Editor: Keith Howard, Catherine Ingram
Author: , , ,
Publisher: , 2020
Link to online store *

Presence Through Sound narrates and analyses, through a range of case studies on selected musics of China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Tibet, some of the many ways in which music and ‘place’ intersect and are interwoven with meaning in East Asia. It explores how place is significant to the many contexts in which music is made and experienced, especially in contemporary forms of longstanding traditions but also in other landscapes such as popular music and in the design of performance spaces. It shows how music creates and challenges borders, giving significance to geographical and cartographic spaces at local, national, and international levels, and illustrates how music is used to interpret relationships with ecology and environment, spirituality and community, and state and nation.

The volume brings together scholars from Australia, China, Denmark, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the UK, each of whom explores a specific genre or topic in depth. Each nuanced account finds distinct and at times different aspects to be significant but, in demonstrating the ability of music to mediate the construction of place and by showing how those who create and consume music use it to inhabit the intimate, and to project themselves out into their surroundings, each points to interconnections across the region and beyond with respect to perception, conception, expression, and interpretation.

In Presence Through Sound, ethnomusicology meets anthropology, literature, linguistics, area studies, and – particularly pertinent to East Asia in the twenty-first century – local musicologies. The volume serves a broad academic readership and provides an essential resource for all those interested in East Asia.

Keith Howard is Professor Emeritus and Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow at SOAS, University of London. He has written or edited 22 books, 170 academic articles, and 195 book/music reviews, and founded and managed the SOASIS CD and DVD series as well as OpenAir Radio.

Catherine Ingram is Lecturer at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney. Her forthcoming monograph is on Kam big song, and she recently commenced an ARC Discovery Project on musical resilience.

Source: publisher’s website

Table of Contents

Catherine Ingram and Keith Howard – Introduction: Reflections on the significance of place for East Asian musical traditions


  1. Catherine Ingram – The Shifting Strength of Place in Contemporary Big Song Singing from Southwestern China
  2. Anne E. McLaren – From the Heart of the Lake Booms a Mountain Song: Sense of Place in the Song-Cycles of Coastal China
  3. Min Yen ONG – Bringing the Past to Life: Creating and Contesting Place in Kunqu Singing Practices
  4. Lu LIU – Beijing in the Contemporary Pipa World


  1. Gerald Roche – The Alphabetical Order of Things: The Language of Place and the Place of Language in Tibetan Song


  1. Yang Ming TEOH – Lingering Across the Ocean, Rooted on the Island: Indigenous Music and the Notions of Mountain and Sea as Taiwanese Identifiers


  1. Keith Howard – The Constructed Soundscapes of Place in Korea, South and North
  2. Hee-sun KIM – Place as Brand: The Role of Place in the Construction of Contemporary Traditional Music in South Korea
  3. Hilary Finchum-Sung – The Sonic Habitus of Silk and Wood: Kugak’s Twenty-First-Century Terrain
  4. Roald Maliangkay – Not a Habitus for the Have-Nots: The Walker Hill Shows, 1962–2012


  1. Naoko TERAUCHI – Gagaku and the Kasuga Wakamiya Onmatsuri Festival of Nara: From the Sound of Authority to the Sound of Local Identity
  2. Hugh de Ferranti – Biwa’s Place in Modern Times
  3. Kiku Day – Place and Locality in Fuke-Style Shakuhachi: The Case of Nezasa-ha Kinpūryū

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