Department of Music

Dr David W Hughes

Key information

Japan Research Centre Emeritus Research Associate Department of Music Research Associate
Department of Music
MA (Cantab), MPhil (Yale), PhD (Michigan)
Email address


David Hughes taught music at SOAS from 1987 until his retirement in 2008, and is now a Research Associate of the Department of Music and the Japan Research Centre. In 2011 he received the annual Japan Society Award for “outstanding contributions to Anglo-Japanese relations and understanding” for his activities in bringing traditional Japanese music to a wide public.

David founded the SOAS Min’yo Group and the London Okinawa Sanshinkai, the major groups performing and teaching traditional Japanese folk music in the UK. He also founded the SOAS Noh Group, now part of the University of London Noh Society, which encourages the teaching of Noh performance. These three groups practice frequently at SOAS. David has also been involved with events featuring over 200 visiting performers from Japan.

David has lived for over ten years in Japan, his main research area, but has also written about aspects of music in Java, Thailand and Korea, as well as about musical grammars and oral mnemonics. His major publications include the books Traditional Folk Song in Modern Japan (2008) and the co-edited Ashgate Research Companion to Japanese Music (2008).

Many of the writings listed in David's CV can be downloaded.

Research interests

Japanese music: folk song, Okinawan music, music education; oral mnemonics in comparative perspective; Central Javanese music: street musicians, siter; musical grammars


Contact David