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David Novak

David Novak works on the globalization of popular music, remediation, protest culture, and social practices of listening. He is the co-editor of Keywords in Sound and author of the award-winning Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation, as well as recent essays and sound recordings in Public Culture, Cultural Anthropology, Popular Music, Sensory Studies, and The Wire. He is currently appointed in the Music Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, with affiliations in Anthropology, Film and Media Studies, and East Asian Langages and Cultural Studies. He is the founder of the Music and Sound Interest Group in the American Anthropological Association, and co-director of the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Music at UCSB.

PhD 2006 with Distinction, Columbia University, Ethnomusicology
MA 1999 Wesleyan University, Ethnomusicology
BA 1992 Oberlin College, East Asian Studies

Interview: ‘New Books in East Asian Studies’ with David Novak

Interview: ‘David Novak on Noise, Fukushima, and More’

Podcast: David Novak, ‘The Cultural Feedback of Noise’

Podcast: ‘The Sounds of Japan’s Antinuclear Movement’


2015 Keywords in Sound. Co-edited with Matthew Sakakeeny. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

2013 Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Winner of the 2014 Book Prize from the British Forum for Ethnomusicology.

Selected Articles, Chapters and Online Publications

2014 “A Beautiful Noise Emerging from the Apparatus of an Obstacle: Trains and the Sound of the Japanese City.” In The Acoustic City, Matthew Gandy and Benny Nilsen, eds. Berlin: Jovis.

2013 “Osaka Inside Out: Recording the Keynote Sounds of the City.” Field recording mix and notes. Sensory Studies, October.

2013 “The Sounds of Japan’s Antinuclear Movement.” Podcast and multimedia publication. post: Notes on Modern and Contemporary Art around the Globe. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). David Plath Media Award (Honorable Mention), Society for East Asian Anthropology, American Anthropological Association.

2011 “The Sublime Frequencies of New Old Media.” Public Culture 23(3): 601-634. See also online media supplement. Jaap Kunst Prize (Honorable Mention), Society for Ethnomusicology.

2010 “Listening to Kamagasaki.” Anthropology News 51(9): 5.

2010 “Onkyô/Oto, Chinmoku/Ma, to Impuro no Sendaitekina Kachi” [“Sound(s),Silence(s), and the Global Value of Improvisation”]. In Nyû Jazu Sutadizu [The New Jazz Studies], ed. T. Miyawaki, S. Hosokawa and M.S. Molasky, pp. 375-395. Tokyo: Artes.

2010 “Cosmopolitanism, Remediation and the Ghost World of Bollywood.” Cultural Anthropology 25(1): 40-72. Also see online media supplement.

2010 “Playing Off Site: The Untranslation of Onkyô.” Asian Music 41(1): 36-59.

2008 “2.5 by 6 Metres of Space: Japanese Music Coffeehouses and Experimental Practices of Listening.” Popular Music 27(1): 15-34. Winner of Richard Waterman Prize, Popular Music Section of the Society for Ethnomusicology.