2014 British Forum for Ethnomusicology Book Prize

It gives us great pleasure to announce the winner of the 2014 British Forum for Ethnomusicology Book Prize:

Novak, David. Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation, Sign, Storage, Transmission. Durham: Duke University Press, 2013.

Novak, David. Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation. Durham: Duke University Press, 2013.

The BFE Book Prize recognizes outstanding scholarship in ethnomusicology written in English. This prestigious award was presented at the BFE Annual General Meeting during the BFE annual conference at SOAS (July 2014). We hope that you can join us to congratulate the prize recipient again at the BFE High Tea Party at the SEM conference in Pittsburgh in November.
The BFE book committee (Martin Stokes, Simon Mills, and Hettie Malcomson) worked long and hard during the selection process, and were impressed by the extremely high quality of many of the books. In total, 17 monographs and 9 edited volumes were received, totalling 26 books, published in 2012 or 2013. The books were written by authors from diverse institutional backgrounds on subjects spanning the breadth of the current ethnomusicological field. Over half of these books were published by UK presses, with entries also with Chinese, German and US publishers.

The BFE is grateful to all those who submitted books to this competition and looks forward to future contributions.  It especially wishes to thank the three judges who reviewed the submissions:

Martin Stokes (Kings College London)
Simon Mills (Durham University)
Hettie Malcomson, chair (Southampton University)


David Novak
Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation
Duke University Press, 2013

Noise, an underground music made through an amalgam of feedback, distortion, and electronic effects, first emerged as a genre in the 1980s, circulating on cassette tapes traded between fans in Japan, Europe, and North America. With its cultivated obscurity, ear-shattering sound, and over-the-top performances, Noise has captured the imagination of a small but passionate transnational audience. For its scattered listeners, Noise always seems to be new and to come from somewhere else: in North America, it was called "Japanoise." But does Noise really belong to Japan? Is it even music at all? And why has Noise become such a compelling metaphor for the complexities of globalization and participatory media at the turn of the millennium?

In Japanoise, David Novak draws on more than a decade of research in Japan and the United States to trace the "cultural feedback" that generates and sustains Noise. He provides a rich ethnographic account of live performances, the circulation of recordings, and the lives and creative practices of musicians and listeners. He explores the technologies of Noise and the productive distortions of its networks. Capturing the textures of feedback—its sonic and cultural layers and vibrations—Novak describes musical circulation through sound and listening, recording and performance, international exchange, and the social interpretations of media.

To find out more about this publication, click here.

Acceptance speech (mp3)