Universiteit Leiden

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Andrea Giolai


Dr. A. Giolai
+31 71 527 4732

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/ 


  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Institute for Area Studies
  • SAS Japan

Work address

Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 1
2311 BZ Leiden
Room number 1.02c



No relevant ancillary activities

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