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Off Notes: Live from Japan

Happy Friday!

This week’s edition of Off Notes is coming to you from Japan, where the masterminds behind Soundfly’s “Touring on a Shoestring” course have booked a tour of their very own (and where this Soundflyer tagged along in search of weird and wonderful goodies to spice up your Friday afternoon!). So read on for a (mostly) Asian-inspired collection of the best the musical internet has to offer!

But first… Japan has a burgeoning modern classical scene, inspired in part by the whimsical sounds of Hayao Miyazaki’s films (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castles, and more). Here’s a delightful collection of some of our favorite Japanese artists and a few of the bands that we’ve met while out on tour!

Here’s what’s going down in the world this week:

  • The Tokyo City Symphony has a web app that allows you to create your own symphony while interactive projections are displayed on a 3D-mapped miniature replica of Tokyo. It’s insane. [Tokyo City Symphony]
  • Now that you’ve listened to some of Japan’s lovelier performers, it’s time to get into the weird stuff:
  • Red Bull Music tracked the history of Japanese popular music through J-Punk and J-Pop. Favorite trivia from the article: dancing to music in public establishments is illegal after midnight here. [Red Bull]
  • This one is from a couple years ago, but was new to me and is captivating: Japan’s Suzuka Circuit race track recorded a 1989 record-breaking F1 race with 6.5 billion data points and used them to recreate the run in a ghostly sound and light installation. [Creative Applications Network]
  • Tickets are now on sale for the Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions US tour. Described as the “must-see video game concert of the year”, it makes one wonder, what was the must-see video game concert of last year? [Ticketmaster and Pokemon]
  • Elsewhere in the world… Toronto-based musician Andrew Huang created a captivating instrumental song using nothing but parts of car tires:
  • Also not from Japan: this composite image of all the faces of all the members of 30 classic rock bands is outlandishly creepy. [Design Taxi]
  • I was surprised to learn that there are a zillion Denny’s in Japan. Sadly, Marilyn Manson didn’t get into a brawl at one of the Japanese Denny’s… but he did get into a brawl at a Denny’s. [Loudwire]
  • Did Brendan’s article on the classical roots of techno spark your interest? Revisit that post here, and then check out Japan’s contribution to the conversation. [Red Bull Music Academy]
  • J-pop star Kumi Koda has created a music video designed for the Occulus Rift. It’s got a bit of the classic J-pop cheese, but more than anything, it actually looks really cool. Check out this trailer for it:
  • And finally, you most certainly need to know more about AKB48. The 60+ member girl group is one of the most successful Japanese acts of all time. They perform their hits with coordinated dance moves every night of the week in their dedicated Tokyo theatre wearing school girl uniforms and candy-colored costumes. They’ve inspired spin-off groups in Taipei, Jakarta, and Shanghai. Here’s a great overview. AKB48 is an endless rabbit hole of amazing facts. My fave is that they are such a trusted part of Japanese pop culture, the cash-strapped government hired them to help sell federal bonds and appear in a farm ministry rice campaign. But enough from me, get to know AKB48 from the women themselves… [Encore and Telegraph]

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Zoë Young
Zoë Young

Zoë is an internet enthusiast and writer who wants to empower everyone to find the knowledge they need to pursue their dreams through the magic of the internet. When not working on web tools and articles to support the Soundfly community, Zoë cooks up a storm and plots ways to recapture her former glory as a third grade recorder soloist. Follow her @parsnipsbk.