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'Sounding' Japanese: Traditions of music in Japanese cinema

Binns, Alexander



Miguel Mera

Ronald Sadoff

Ben Winters


The cinema of Japan, known as nihon eiga [日本映画] is vast and is not easily encapsulated because of the wide range of cultural practices that have informed its identity, including the music it deployed. And yet, it arguably presents a distinctive sound world not merely because of the traditional instruments that are sometimes used but also because of the ways in which the use of music in early Japanese cinema was closely connected to the pre-existing traditions of theatrical music and narration that preceded it and continued alongside it. This brought an already-understood repertoire of musical association and rhetoric that enabled a distinctive aesthetic to emerge and develop. Such a mixture of adherence to traditional practice and a subsequent embracing and adapting of a wider range of musical styles created a musical-cinematic sound which became characteristically Japanese.


Binns, A. (2017). 'Sounding' Japanese: Traditions of music in Japanese cinema. In M. Mera, R. Sadoff, & B. Winters (Eds.), The Routledge companion to screen music and sound (428-439). New York: Routledge.

Online Publication Date Aug 4, 2017
Publication Date Jun 1, 2017
Deposit Date Nov 2, 2016
Publicly Available Date Nov 26, 2018
Journal The Routledge companion to screen music and sound
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Pages 428-439
Series Title Routledge music companions
Book Title The Routledge companion to screen music and sound
Chapter Number 34
ISBN 9780367871192; 9781138855342
Keywords Japanese cinema; Nihon eiga; Film music
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Nov 2, 2016


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