David Novak

Associate Professor
Ethnomusicology Program

Office Location

Music Building 1133


Popular Music
Media Circulation
Southeast Asia
Sound Studies
Ethnomusicology Program


PhD 2006 (with Distinction) Columbia University, Ethnomusicology
MA 1999 Wesleyan University, Ethnomusicology
BA 1992 Oberlin College, East Asian Studies


My work examines transcultural relationships of media circulation, which I explore through multi-sited ethnographic research. My interests include remediation, sonic intersubjectivity, social practices of listening, and the creative politics of music technology. My current book project, Diggers: A Media Archaeology of Global Popular Music, theorizes musical globalization through contemporary histories of digital and analog sound media, particularly among networks of record and cassette collectors, informal sound archives, reissue labels and sound recording digitization projects in Southeast Asia.
Affiliate, East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies
Affiliate, Anthropology
Affiliate, Film and Media Studies
Related links to David Novak's research:


2015   Keywords in Sound. Co-edited with Matthew Sakakeeny. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
2013   Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Winner of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology Book Prize. Download
Selected Articles, Chapters and Online Publications
2014  “A Beautiful Noise Emerging from the Apparatus of an Obstacle: Trains and the Sound of the Japanese City.” In The Acoustic City, Matthew Gandy and Benny Nilsen, eds. Berlin: Jovis.
2013   “Osaka Inside Out." Field recording mix and notes. Sensory Studies, October 2013.
2013   “The Sounds of Japan’s Antinuclear Movement.” Podcast and multimedia publication. post: Notes on Modern and Contemporary Art around the Globe. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). David Plath Media Award (Honorable Mention), Society for East Asian Anthropology, American Anthropological Association.
2011   “The Sublime Frequencies of New Old Media.” Public Culture 23(3): 601-634. See also online media supplement. Jaap Kunst Prize (Honorable Mention), Society for Ethnomusicology.
2010   “Listening to Kamagasaki.” Anthropology News 51(9): 5.
2010   Onkyô/Oto, Chinmoku/Ma, to Impuro no Sendaitekina Kachi” [“Sound(s), Silence(s), and the Global Value of Improvisation”]. In Nyû Jazu Sutadizu [The New Jazz Studies], ed. T. Miyawaki, S. Hosokawa and M.S. Molasky, pp. 375-395. Tokyo: Artes.
2010    Playing Off Site: The Untranslation of Onkyô.” Asian Music 41(1): 36-59.
2008    2.5 by 6 Metres of Space: Japanese Music Coffeehouses and Experimental Practices of Listening.” Popular Music 27(1): 15-34. Winner of Richard Waterman Prize, Popular Music Section of the Society for Ethnomusicology.


  • Anthropology of Music
  • Music as Media
  • Sound Studies
  • Ethnographic Writing
  • Globalization and Popular Music
  • Music and Documentary Film
  • Independent Music 
  • History and Practice of the Recording Studio
  • Music in Modern Japan
  • Global Screens, Global Sounds
  • Music Cultures of Java and Bali
  • Ethnomusicology Forum
  • Dissertation Writing Workshop