What kind of music is being played in contemporary Asia? Where did it come from, and how will it develop in the future?

In 2016, TPAM is launching a music program that will introduce Asian artists, in the context of the platform’s “Asian focus” since 2015. I am flattered to be appointed Director of the program. In Asia, unprecedentedly new forms of musical expression have been evolving through a combination of many factors, including economic growth, changes in political systems, increased freedom of expression, the diffusion of information over the Internet and the influence of traditional cultures. In short, it’s quite exciting. Couldn’t we create a program that would let our audience and participants experience these dynamic changes, one that also takes historical considerations into account?

However, it is dangerous to identify music easily using “Asia” as the sole framework; with the complex situation involving countries, regions, histories, ethnic groups, religions and interactions with other cultures, music exists in overwhelmingly many different ways in Asia. It can be said that “Asia” embraces countless musics. The only and best way to gain understanding of that must be to physically visit each country and region and research into the situation on the ground. I would also like to involve curators, academics and specialists who are well-informed about the situation, in such forms as commission or co-curation, to explore deeply into music that is rooted in the local history, culture and context.

In Asian countries, not only music itself but also arts organizations that assist and disseminate it as well as public infrastructures that support these organizations have gradually been developing. It must be important to meet not only artists but also organizers to consider joint projects and to build international network with the future in mind.

I decided to start with Vietnam and Indonesia. The following is my informal notes of what I saw and heard there in a diarylike style. It would have been very lengthy if I had written everything about everyone that I met and every place that I visited, so it tells only about what strongly impressed me.

 Aki_Onda_photo by Maki Kaoru_2


Text and photos by Aki Onda
Translation by Tomoyuki Arai