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Vintage Electronic Music from Japan, Part 2

1960 to 1975

This is Part 2 of this two-part mini-series on Vintage Electronic Music from Japan.

In this episode we listened to examples of electronic music created from 1960 to 1975 [see podcast]. Some of this music was produced in the studios of Japanese Broadcasting, the NHK studio. This was a facility designed in the late 1950s to imitate the equipment and setup found in the famous electronic music studio established by the Germans in Cologne, where Stockhausen worked. However, much of the work heard here was produced independently of the NHK. We are hearing a transition in style from the institutional work of the NHK to the work of private artists.

Please listen to the first part of this series for some background on Japanese electronic music and some of the foundational works from the 1950s. By the late 1960s and early 1970s, Japanese electronic music had truly found its own voice and often sought to combine electronic sounds with the traditional sounds of Japanese culture. We’ll hear a sampling of all of these.


1. Toru Takemitsu, “Water Music” (1960) for magnetic tape (1969, RCA Victrola).

2. Matsuo Ohno, Takehisa Kosugi, “B.G.M. Parts A-F” from Roots Of Electronic Sound (1963). Music and effects later used for Astroboy.

3. Maki Ishii, “Kio-oo” for piano, orchestra and electronic sounds from Mt. Fujiyama Suite and Dipol For Orchestra (1968, Aries).

4. Toshi Ichiyanagi, “Love Blinded Ballad (Enka 1969)” from the Opera "From The Works Of Tadanori Yokoo" (1969). Tape collage.

5. Toshi Ichiyanagi, “Electric Chant” from the Opera "From the Works of Tadanori Yokoo" (1969). Military music with electronic tones.

6. Toshi Ichiyanagi, Music for Living Space (1969, Bijutsu Shuppan-Sha), composed for the Electric Faculty of Engineering of Kyoto University. Early computer voice synthesis combined with Gregorian chant for Osaka Expo '70.

7. Minao Shibata, “Improvisation for Electronic Sounds” (1968) from Japanese Electronic Music (1971, Philips).

8. Toru Takemitsu, “Stanza II” (1971) for harp, tape, and natural sounds from Miniatur II : Art Of Toru Takemitsu (1973, DGG)

9. Yoshi Wada ‎– Earth Horns with Electronic Drone, excerpt, (1974, Edition Omega Point) Electronics by Liz Phillips. Pipehorn players Barbara Stewart, Garrett List, Jim Burton, Yoshi Wada. Composed by, recorded by Yoshi Wada. Total Duration: 2 hours 42 minutes. Recorded at Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York, Sunday 2-5pm, February 24, 1974.

10. Joji Yuasa, “My Blue Sky (No. 1)” (1975. Tape parts realized at NHK Electronic music studio.

All that’s left is the Archive Mix in which I play two additional tracks at the same time to see what happens. Here are two more pieces of vintage Japanese electronic music:

1. Toshi Ichiyanagi, “Sound Materials for Music for Tinguely” (1963).

2. Makoto Moroi, “Shōsanke”for electronic sounds and Japanese traditional instruments (1968).

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Electronic and Experimental Music

Notes on the development and continuing history of electronic music, its creators, and the technology.

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