Retelling, Memory-Work, and Metanarrative: Two Musical-Artistic Mediations for Sexual Minorities and Majorities in Tokyo


  • Mia Nakamura Tokyo University of the Arts


Music is not only something to play, but it is also a way to produce a new sharable metanarrative through musical practice, which could represent a renewed set of social values in which people of diverse backgrounds are appreciated. The present paper explores this aspect of music, examining two musical activities held in Tokyo, Japan. One is “Prelude”, an annual music festival for music circles of sexual minorities and their supporters, and the other is “Living Together Lounge”, a monthly club event for those who are both HIV-positive and negative. These activities aim to create community empowerment and social transformation among minority and majority groups. While those involved are aware of musical aspects being an integral part of the events, the ways in which music plays a central role has not been well articulated. This is partly because the declared mission of each event has no overt connection to music, but more significantly because there has been no proper way, either commonly or academically, available to describe what is happening performatively in the practices of these events. The present study thus attempts to examine the unuttered aspects of these practices through ethnographic and interdisciplinary investigations. It reveals that the musical practices with various artistic engagements represent tangible memory-work in which participants are enabled to retell existing musical works in their own ways, producing a new sharable metanarrative and acquiring an acknowledgement of the retelling in public. Creating this musico-ritualistic practice is itself a work of art, which eventually becomes a life resource for those who take part in the events and a means of transforming a social situtation of conflict.