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Music, Sound and Media in Times of Crisis (MiToC) International Study Day

April 10, 2021

Key Contact:Carleton Music

The MiToC Study Day will draw together researchers, students, musicians, and the general public, to collectively explore how mediated music during crisis activates powerful mechanisms of community belonging and heightened senses of personal identity.

“The Democracy That Society Allows: Sounds of Protests in Japan and the US“

SESSION 3: KEYNOTE ADDRESS (1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Eastern Standard Time)

Perceived attacks on the foundations of democracy in recent years have sparked large demonstrations, often numbering in the hundreds of thousands, in both Japan and the US. This paper will explore the ways in which democracy is sounded differently in street protests of two densely populated cities—Tokyo and New York—as shaped by urban geography (Parkinson), outdoor acoustics (Kang), participatory practices (Turino), and perhaps most importantly, policing. In Japan, heavy policing renders protests less visible, making Japanese protesters rely on sound to make their claims and fill urban space, through chants and music; chanting, recognized as important for building solidarity, is often led and sometimes planned in advance. In particular, the sound truck, piled high with sound equipment and carrying musicians, has enjoyed longevity in Japanese social movements due to its ability to create a wall of sound that both extends its presence in the urban landscape and envelops the protesters. The Women’s March in New York, which had the privilege of being lightly policed relative to Black Lives Matter and other US protests, was a comparatively quiet protest. While less organized than Japanese protests, the leaderless atmosphere of this and other Women’s Marches led to a high rate of innovation in chanting. Using a combination of humor, references to recent events, interaction with popular music, and intertextuality with historical protest culture, the chants and songs of the Resistance engaged protesters and addressed the issues in memorable fashion. Analyzing protests as an interplay between urban space, cyberspace, police, and activist-musicians, the talk considers the ways in which the sounds of street protests reflect the kind of democracy that society allows.

Noriko Manabe, Temple University

Noriko Manabe is associate professor of music studies at Temple University. She researches music in social movements and popular music in Japan and the Americas. Her monograph, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Protest Music after Fukushima (Oxford), won the John Whitney Hall Book Prize from the Association for Asian Studies, the BFE Book Prize from the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, and Honorable Mention for the Alan Merriam Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology. Her second monograph, in progress, posits a typology of intertextuality in protest music and the patterns by which these methods are used. She has published articles and chapters on Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” music and chants of the Trump resistance, music addressing the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japanese hip hop. She is editor of 33-1/3 Japan, a book series on Japanese popular music from Bloomsbury Publishing; co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Protest Music (with Eric Drott); and co-editor of Nuclear Music (with Jessica Schwartz). She serves as Treasurer of the American Musicological Society, as Chair of the Publication Awards Committee for the Society for Music Theory, and as a member of the Finance Committee for the Association for Asian Studies.

See the Schedule!