Bands Around the World

Relevance of Wind Bands

Schools throughout much of the world offer music instruction, and wind bands have tended to be among the most popular instrumental ensembles in educational settings. Wind bands have also long played an important role in military, governmental, industrial, and religious institutions. Nevertheless, the relevance of wind bands in the contemporary world is an important question that seems inadequately explored.

Wind bands have certain educational advantages, yet probably cannot alone suffice as a comprehensive form of music education. Still, wind bands (broadly defined) may have greater relevance than most would realize, since the global phenomenon of wind band fusions has received inadequate scholarly attention and many schools tend to subscribe to a very narrow definition of the genre.

Research on bands in various cultures also provides important insights into the processes of hybridity and transculturation in music. It seems possible that as much can be learned about a culture from the way it modifies and adapts to newly introduced styles as from studies of its own long-standing traditions. Certainly the role of competition in Japanese bands, and the role of religion in Maori and Tongan bands, are demonstrative of fundamental values within these cultures, as is the role of rhythm, dance and improvisation in the other ensembles shown further below.

My research in this area contributes to the growing body of scholarship that seeks to attain a more comprehensive global understanding of wind bands. Other scholars addressing related topics include Trevor Herbert, Rob Boonzajer Flaes, Kate Brucher, Suzel Reily, Shuhei Hosokawa, Kanichi Abe, Bernhard Habla, and Richard Scott Cohen.

Japanese Wind Bands

What is important about Japanese wind bands?:

(1) The All-Japan Band Association national competition is the largest music contest of any kind in the world, with nearly 500,000 contestants.

(2) The world's leading professional civilian wind ensembles are based in Japan, most notably the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra and the Osaka Municipal Symphonic Band. These ensembles have ticket sales and recording outputs that resemble major symphony orchestras.

(3) In just a few years, young Japanese band students learn to perform at virtually a professional level. This is remarkable considering the relatively short history of bands in Japan.

(4) Japanese composers have produced a unique body of original band works that fuse Japanese and European influences. Many of these works are of an outstanding quality and have received little attention outside Japan.

(5) Bands are the oldest form of western instrumental music ensemble in Japan.

I first began researching Japanese wind bands about ten years ago and my book will finally be published in the coming year.

Here is a video clip of a Singaporean band performing an original piece by Japanese composer Bin Kaneda. Kaneda was a close friend of Hiroshi Hoshina and a teacher of Toshio Mashima, both of whom are also regarded as important Japanese wind band composers:

Here is a video clip of some interesting images of Africa accompanied by the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra’s performance of Van McCoy's "African Symphony." The Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra is considered an important professional model for wind bands throughout Japan, and is very highly regarded internationally as well:

Here is another clip of the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra performing in a nationally televised awards event:

Most Japanese wind bands play thorough-composed music under the guidance of a conductor, but here is a video clip of an especially interesting professional band called Tokyo Brass Style (which has developed from embellishing the Japanese school band tradition in fusion with global popular music styles, such as salsa). They are playing a song that was recently popularized in the Dragon Ball anime series, Maka Fushigi Adventure:

Here is a video of the Do-Re-Mi Nursery School Marching Band:

Here are more links to amazing videos of Japanese youth bands:

  • Japanese middle school band (12&13-year olds), 2011 contest: start at 4:00

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAB-imDWTx0&feature=related

  • Japanese high school band playing piece by Toshio Mashima: start from 5:10

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoX_vmMzwBs&feature=related

  • Japanese middle school band on Japanese band piece:

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9eqPCgS5bU&feature=related

  • Japanese news story on school band contests:

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lGwSEs7OJM&feature=related

Here is a video of another intriguing (but less musically compelling) wind band and Japanese culture fusion that occured outside Japan: It is a live performance of the recent pop hit “Hollaback Girl”, which combines hip-hop with a marching band (playing on Yamaha gear), accompanied by Tokyo’s Harajuku Girls, all led by American pop icon Gwen Stefani. Stefani's recent hit album includes many surprising references to Tokyo youth culture and Harajuku style:


Maori Ratana Bands

New Zealand's Maori Ratana bands are a unique tradition that developed within the largest political and religious movement among Maori. Using an ethnographic approach, I studied the social history of these bands during 2006. The research took me to the religion's headquarters and even to Japan, where an important meeting had occurred between Japanese and Maori Ratana musicians in 1924.

Here are video clips of some Maori Ratana bands:


Tongan Brass Bands

Tongan brass bands are another unique tradition that fuses European and Polynesian influences. I studied a Tongan band in Auckland, New Zealand to see how this tradition was adapted into the migrant urban context.

Here is a video clip of the Royal Hifofuoa Tongan Brass Band:

Here is a video clip of the Tongan Police Brass Band:


As sociomusicologist Charles Keil has demonstrated, bands that are organized on democratic principles, that emphasize rhythmic "groove", and provide opportunities for improvisation, composition, and arranging offer great potential for creative and meaningful lifelong participation in music. Brass bands have also played an important role in the development of many popular music styles (reggae, ska, jazz, salsa), and brass samples are even used in hip hop.

The following video clips of a New Orleans Mardi Gras band followed by Balkan, Romani, Pakistani, Thai and West African bands illustrate this point:

Mardi Gras Street Band (USA):

Balkan Brass Band:

Romani Brass Band:

Gengbe' Brass Band of Benin:

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 brass section (Nigeria)

Bjork: Overture from "Dancer in the Dark":


Why Sociomusicology?

Why name a blog "sociomusicology"? Well, I am a musician and music teacher, but am also active in the academic fields of music teacher education and ethnomusicology. Ethnomusicology is often defined as the anthropological study of music, but the term sociomusicology encompasses the broader field of social science research in music (including psychological, sociological, and anthropological studies), of which ethnomusicology is one component.
Within this broad field of sociomusicology, I am particularly interested in topics related to music teaching and learning, and the emergence and institutionalization of new music traditions.

Musicians are often asked to identify who have been the artistic "influences" on their music. The same question can be asked of music researchers regarding their scholarly influences, and sociomusicology seems the best term to sum up a lot of different interests and influences:

From the side of music education, I particularly appreciate the important contributions of:
-Liora Bresler
-Gary McPherson
-Lucy Green
-Robert Duke
-Donald Hodges
-Marie McCarthy
-Pamela Burnard
-Anthony Palmer
-Kari Veblen
-Randall Allsup
-Heidi Westerlund
-Victor Fung
-Peter Webster
-Carlos Xavier Rodriguez
-Stephen Zdzinski
-Jere Humphreys
-Terese Volk
-Wayne Bowman

. . . and especially, wonderful mentors from my years of PhD studies:
-Patricia Shehan Campbell [http://www.music.washington.edu/faculty/faculty_bio.php?ID=42]
-Steven Morrison

Also, I have recently been enjoying the work of Carlos Abril, who is a prolific and insightful music education scholar of the same generation as me:

I also greatly appreciate the scholarship of ethnomusicologists, particularly:
-Bruno Nettl
-Tom Turino
-Bonnie Wade
-Paul Berliner
-Andrew Killick
-Ingrid Monson
-Shannon Dudley
-Margaret Kartomi
-Krister Malm
-Ruth Stone
-Martin Stokes
[http://www.music.ox.ac.uk/newsletter/Oct_2006/news.htm], and
-Judith Becker

I am also attracted to scholarship in popular music and related areas by scholars such as:
-Timothy Taylor
-Keith Negus
-Robert Walser
[http://www.musicology.ucla.edu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=38&Itemid=52 ]
-Christopher Small
-Joseph Schloss

. . . as well as renowned local New England music scholars:
-Reebee Garofalo
[http://www.cpcs.umb.edu/faculty/garofalo.htm] and
-Charles Keil

From the fields of sociology and psychology of music, I have been especially enjoying the research of:
-David Hargreaves
-Adrian North
-Jane Davidson
-Steven Brown
-Robert Faulkner
[http://www.umass.edu/sociol/faculty_staff/faulkner.html], and
-Tia DeNora

I am also very interested in the innovative and insightful work of empirical music psychologists John Sloboda [http://www.keele.ac.uk/depts/ps/jasbiog.htm] and

Richard Parncutt [http://www-gewi.uni-graz.at/staff/parncutt/],

as well as music philosopher Stephen Davies [http://www.arts.auckland.ac.nz/staff/index.cfm?P=3111].

Much of my recent research is in the field of wind music transculturation, so I am attracted to the writings of Trevor Herbert, who has forged a unique approach to the social history of brass brands in the UK and abroad [http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/music/therbert.htm].

So much can be learned from reading the work of each of these music scholars. I have had the pleasure of meeting and even getting to know some of them, and enjoy contributing in my own way to the kinds of scholarship described here.

All the above is why this blog is called SOCIOMUSICOLOGY.


Here is a link to an announcement for what I consider to be one of the most interesting books to appear recently in the field of sociomusicology:

Music and Manipulation


Here is a link to an open-access online article in which Steven Brown discusses issues in the field of sociomusicology:

Here is a link to an open-access online article in which Charlie Keil discusses the concept of sociomusicology:

Here is a link to an article by Jos Kunst that also discusses sociomusicology, “Music and Communication: On Musicology as a Behavioural Science”:

Others who have written about the field of sociomusicology include Christopher Small, Kurt Blaukopf, Steve Feld, John Kaemmer, Steven Brown and John Shepherd, as well as music education scholars such as Barbara Reeder Lundquist, Tom Regelski and J. Terry Gates, Max Kaplan, Hildegard Froehlich, and Patricia Shehan Campbell.


Honkfest Workshop coming soon!

- A multicultural brass band workshop with sociomusicologists Charles Keil and David Hebert.

The "Honkfest Workshop" is organized by popular music expert Reebee Garofalo at Tufts University [
www.tufts.edu] as part of Honkfest, October 5-7, 2007 [www.honkfest.org]. Street bands from throughout the United States, and as far away as Italy, Montreal, and New Orleans are joining Honkfest, and the associated workshop provides applied instruction in this important form of community music. The event is sponsored and hosted by the Tufts University Music Department community outreach initiative [http://www.tufts.edu/musiccenter/resources/].

  • Notable participants include the Somerville Mayor and renowned radio personalities Click and Clack.
  • Performers include the legendary band Original Big Seven from New Orleans in their first New England performance since Katrina.
  • Speakers at the event include Reebee Garofalo (author of notable books such as Rockin Out, Policing Pop, and Rockin the Boat) and Charles Keil (author of numerous music books, including Urban Blues, Tiv Song, Polka Happiness, Music Grooves, My Music, Bright Balkan Morning, and Born to Groove).



Article on Honkfest 2007:

Prof. Charles Keil:
The Pathband Concept:

Prof. Reebee Garofalo:

Charlie Keil & Seattle Pathband:


Summertime in Kyoto

Here is a fairly recent photo of me in Kyoto.

I will probably not be blogging often (much too busy), but this seems to be a useful place to post upcoming events of interest and a link to a recent version of my Curriculum Vitae.

Why do professors post their CVs online anyway? It can appear immodest, yet academia is a rather complicated world in which one's background and creative activities are often of great interest to both students and peers. Particularly for younger professors who teach at the Doctoral level it can be very useful to put this information"out there" where anyone who is curious can access it. Having such information in the public domain enables scholars to identify areas of common interest and to understand each other's "research agenda", theoretical approach, and methodological orientation. For artists, such information is useful in that it helps one identify potentially compatible collaborators for new and inspiring projects.

Link to my Profile page and CV:

Click HERE to access

Here are links to some recent open-access online publications:

Thai-Maori Musical Exchange Project

Essay Review of The Study of Ethnomusicology

Article on quality assurance in online music education

Article that describes a music education project among Native Americans:


Also, here are links to images from music projects across recent years:

Recording on trumpet in Tokyo JVC Studios with jazz pianist Johnny Todd and Midori Takamura -
http://www.funkhorn.com/blog/img/060604_04.jpg / www.midoritakamura.com/david.jpg

Tanglewood II-Charting the Future (2007), symposium on music learning -

Rehearsing jazz with trumpet in David Hebert Group -

Jazz album cover from David Hebert Group -

Playing Thai cymbals with Maori music student -

"Poeformance" in Tokyo: with Japanese Butoh dancer and Belgian poet Eric Van Hove -


Conducting original composition in Tokyo -

/ www.transcri.be/opera1.html

Performing on trumpet in Auckland with wonderbrass -