Associate Professor Kimi Coaldrake - Musicological Society of Australia


Shifts and Turns: Moving Music, Musicians and Ideas

30 Nov - 3 Dec 2016

39th National Conference of the Musicological Society of Australia
Elder Conservatorium of Music, The University of Adelaide

Convenors:†Steven Knopoff and†Daniela Kaleva

Associate Professor Kimi Coaldrake

Keynote Presentation

Date: Wednesday 30 November
Venue: Macbeth Lecture Theatre, Badger Building Ground Floor
Time: 2:30pm

Shifts and Turns in the Development of a Multidisciplinary Analytical Method for the Study of the Sound and Sound Culture of the Japanese Koto

This keynote address reflects on the shifts and turns that have occurred during the research journey to develop a new multidisciplinary analytical method for the study of the sound and sound culture of the Japanese koto (13-stringed zither). †It discusses the use of technologies such as CT scanning for 3D imaging and results from studies with acoustic cameras to inform advanced computational methods known as finite element analysis for the systematic acoustic study of the kotoís construction and complex sound production. This work is combined with analysis using the methods of organology and the cultural study of music instruments that draw on historical sources including those relating to Japanese concepts of tonal colouring and koto makersí handbooks as well as knowledge from the presenterís professional training in performance practice of the koto in Japan. This method thus combines technologies and methods to form an integrated multidisciplinary framework that permits entirely new insights not only into the construction, complex sound and traditional aesthetics of the koto in the 21st century in particular, but also zithers in Asia more generally. In the process it provides another example of the shifts and turns that music, musicians and ideas have taken across eras that are part of the rich history of research into material culture and traditional practice.



Kimi Coaldrake is Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide, Australia, where she is Head of Postgraduate Programs at the Elder Conservatorium of Music and teaches music studies. She is a Fulbright Scholar and Affiliate-in-Research at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University where she has previously been a Visiting Research Scholar. She is also a professional performer on Japanese koto (zither). She has published in the areas of Japanese music theatre with Routledge and the incorporation of tradition into Japanese contemporary culture including Japanese Studies, Japan Forum, Musicology Australia and Perfect Beat. Her current research uses Finite Element Analysis to investigate the acoustic properties of the koto and its relationship to the culture of sound in Japan.

She may be contacted at