Junko Oba, assistant professor of music, holds a B.A. from International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan and an M.A. from Wesleyan University, where she was trained as ethnomusicologist and sound recordings archivist.
She teaches ethnomusicology, popular music studies, and Asian studies courses. Her research interests include traditional and contemporary Japanese popular musics; East Asia; Asian diasporas, especially Nikkei Brazilian communities in Japan; national identity in the trans- and post-national world orders; music and collective memory construction; and organology and music instruments building.
Her most recent scholarly publication: "Performing Kimigayo: Japanese National Anthem and the Sonorous Undoing of the Collective Voice" just appeared in Asian Musicology.
As a musician, she was trained to perform piano, koto (Japanese long zither), and jiuta shamisen (Japanese long-necked lute).
This course examines Japanese popular culture as a transnational phenomenon, whose development and dissemination occur, and influence permeates beyond conventional national cultural boundaries. The course looks into the regional cultural matrix of East and Southeast Asia with Japan as its integral part, and the cultural dimension of globalization and its changing dynamics against the backdrop of Asia's growing economy. Topics include J-pop and other popular musics from the region, manga (comic books), anime (Japanese animated films), films, computer games, theatre, fashion trends. Each student will present analysis of the course materials during discussions and a final project on a particular topic relevant to this course.
This course is for students with the solid knowledge of Western music fundamentals including the proficiency with staff notation, intervals and chords identification as well as basic melodic and rhythmic sight-reading skills. After a quick review, we first explore functions of melodic and harmonic intervals in species counterpoint. The class then proceeds to the study of four-part diatonic harmony and voice-leading techniques. In this section, we also begin to learn relationships between cadences and forms and compose a four-voice chorale using a binary form for a midterm project. In the last section, we engage in a more comprehensive multi-level analysis with special attention to motivic compositions of music. For their final, students apply the knowledge to analyze a minuet in a basic ternary form and also compose their own for the instrumentation of their choice. In addition to the regular class meetings, participation in the weekly ear training is mandatory. Prerequisite: HACU 119 Musical Beginnings or equivalent AND the placement test in the first class.
Ethnomusicology is a field of music scholarship, which examines a wide range of music and music-related human activities with distinctive sociocultural perspectives and methodologies. This course offers an introductory experience of the field for students pursuing ethnomusicological projects in their Div. II and III and those interested in exploring this relatively unknown field. Students are introduced to the historical development of the field since its emergence in the late 19th century and more recent discourses and directions, subjects that many ethnomusicologists investigate, and how they approach them. Fieldwork being a central methodology, students learn how to document, analyze, and interpret ethnographic information, how to preserve and share their research findings, and ethical issues pertaining to the handling of individual and collective cultural properties. The course also entails a brief introduction of other methodologies such as archival, organological, and iconographical research. Previous experience in music scholarship, anthropology, or cultural studies is desirable.
This course introduces students to the study of music and music performances as social texts. Students will explore the meaning encoded in music in its multiple forms--acoustic phenomenon, composition, notation, recording, performance, idea, and commodity--and develop an understanding of the role of music in different societies, cultures, and value systems. The syllabus consists of case studies of cultural traditions from many different countries and regions as well as musical expressions with the larger transnational reach. Students will study and discuss the context in which music is created, its value to the people whose culture it inhabits, the instruments upon which the music is played, and the transformation of music as a social process. Music reading skills and knowledge of basic music principles are helpful but not required.
"Asia" is a diverse, dynamic, and complex cultural entity that encompasses a vast geographic area and a long rich history. In this course we will investigate some representative performing arts traditions of South, Southeast, and East Asia, e.g., Indian classical music, Javanese gamelan, Chinese operas, Japanese noh theatre, as a way of learning about the regions' unique history, different value systems, aesthetic sensibilities, spiritual beliefs, philosophies, and ways of life. We will also cross-culturally examine these performing arts traditions to understand the past and ongoing trans-regional cultural interactions. No previous music training is necessary but the students are expected to engage in critical listening and basic musical analysis of various music examples.
Every culture bears unique sensibilities to sounds. People cultivate distinctive ways of hearing, understanding, and relating to them. These sensibilities are also reflected in the processes of sound- and music-making. Different instruments are devised to encapsulate distinctive cultural values not only acoustically but also visually in their material forms. This course aims to explore diverse music cultures of the world through the lens of organology (the study of musical instruments). We examine a wide range of sound-making devices broadly defined as musical instruments in their current sociocultural and historical contexts. Our investigation encompasses subjects such as social functions and significations of the instruments, e.g., ritual objects, status symbols, and exotic commodities, myths and symbolism attributed to the instruments, technology and craftsmanship involved in the fabrication, and ecological and ethical concerns for the use of certain materials, e.g., exotic wood, tortoise shells, and ivory.
Assistant Professor of Music
Mail Code MB
Music and Dance Building 104
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002