The Making of Remote Collaborative Performance of Koto Music “Strings of Hope”

Paper Presentation
28 August 2020
14:00 - 15:00 hrs (GMT+7)

Dr. Hiroko Nagai, Speaker

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The outbreak of COVID-19 tremendously affected people in all music related fields. Music consumption has become increasingly digital as the confinement at home led people to intensify their focus on media including online live broadcasting, live streaming, and videos on demand. In music production, musicians are searching for new ways to engage with listeners/viewers as well as other musicians.

During the lockdown, as a practitioner of the koto, a Japanese traditional instrument, I started being involved in online music production. This paper discusses my experience in collaborating remotely with other musicians and performing online.


In April 2020, Satsuki Okdamura of the Koto Music Institute of Australia shared with me her idea for a video production of a collaborative performance. Thirteen koto players who resided outside Japan responded to her call, and the group produced its first video “Strings of Hope: OKOTO” in June. Having a renowned koto virtuoso Kazue Sawai as a guest performer, the second video gathered more than 100 participants in North America, Australia, Europe, and Southeast Asia (open to the public in August). Two videos-on-demand employed the same method: an existing piece was chosen and pre-recorded individually, and the video and audio were edited separately as noone in the group had any experience of remote live performance and audio latency was a concern. The lack of interplay between participants, the rigidity of tempo, limited technological abilities, on the other hand, were among the issues we dealt with during the video production process.


The third video production aims at something different: participatory composition based on the open form in scale/modes and tempo by utilizing indeterminacy particular to traditional koto music. In comparison with Dai Fujikawa’s work “Longing from Afar: To Be Tele-performed” (2020), the paper attempts to present the forms of music for remote production for collaborative performance.