A. (Andrea) Giolai

  • PhD student
  • Japanese Studies; Music Studies

Fields of interest

Japanese music; Ethnomusicology and the Sociology of Music; Performing Arts of Japan

PhD research

Musical Passion and Social Complexity in the Practice of Gagaku Music

Supervisors: Kasia Cwiertka; Bonaventura Ruperti (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)

My research focuses on the practice of court music (gagaku) in contemporary Japan.

Considering the growing interest toward this music exhibited by a large portion of Japanese society, it seems appropriate not to separate the purely musicological aspects of the practice from its social framework: a network of political, environmental and social issues frequently overlooked by traditional methodologies. I am interested in this complexity, and I try to explore it by conducting in-depth fieldwork activity with a group of gagaku amateurs in the Kansai area. I focus on the figure of the amateur because, more than anyone, he or she embodies a shared musical passion that is crucial to understanding the social significance of gagaku today.  Through my research, I wish to tie a certain form of attachment to the broader social network of this practice, showing that, when made meaningful, music truly matters.



2012- present
- Ph.D. student, Institute for Area Studies, Leiden University and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (Italy), Co-Supervision of Doctoral Studies

- M.A. (110/110 cum laude) in Languages and Cultures of East Asia (Major: Japan), Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy

- M.A. (Diploma, Full Marks) in Musicology (Major: Transverse Flute), Conservatorio di Musica A. Steffani, Castelfranco Veneto, Italy

- B.A. (110/110 cum laude) in Languages and Cultures of East Asia (Major: Japan), Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy

Related Professional Experience

2013- present
- Exchange Student,  Department of Sociology, Kyoto University (Supervisor: Prof. Kimio Ito) (Exchange Agreement between Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and Kyoto University)

- Lecturer in Ethnomusicology and Folklore at Music Therapy School “Associazione Culturale Stratos”, Bari, Italy

September 2013
- Presentation: Learning A-Way: A Comparative Analysis of the Transmission of Traditional Music in Present-Day Italy and Japan, first EAJS (European Association for Japanese Studies) Conference in Japan, Kyoto University

February 2013
- Lecture: Music and Shamanism: the Case of the Republic of Korea, B.A. course “History of Korean Philosophy and Religions” (Dr. Clemente Beghi), Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy

May 2012
- Seminar: Ethnomusicology, an Introduction, Music Therapy School “Centro Studi Musicoterapia Altovicentino”, Thiene, Italy

Scholarships and Grants

- JASSO Foundation (2013-2014)
- Ca’ Foscari University of Venice Ph.D. Scholarship (2012-2015)
- Erasmus Program (2011)


Italian (native), English, Japanese


  • Giolai, Andrea. 2013. Borders of Tradition: Social Innovation, Hybridity and Consumption of Traditional Music in Contemporary Japan. In Asato, Wako and Aoyama, Kaoru. [Eds.]. “Reconstruction of the Intimate and Public Spheres: Proceedings of the 5th Next-Generation Global Workshop”. Kyoto, Kyoto University.

  • Giolai, Andrea. 2013. Introducing Mikagura. Some Ethnomusicological Features of an Ancient Japanese Ritualwww.centrostudiorientaliroma.net/tag/gagaku/ 

Last Modified: 11-12-2015