Dr Yuiko Asaba

Supervised by

Research interests

Contact:  yuikoasaba8@gmail.com  (*this address is active from 1 May 2017 onwards)

Yuiko Asaba PhD thesis "Tango in Japan: Digesting and Disciplining a Distant Music" (awarded in 2017) 

This PhD thesis examines the dynamics of Japan's tango culture by analysing issues and tensions surrounding cultural transmission, performance practice, and cultural meanings. Oswald de Andrade's "cultural cannibalization" is employed as a theoretical lens to reveal the uniqueness of tango in Japan and demonstrate how musicians, fans/patrons and market forces attempt to maintain tango's idiosyncratic features while incorporating local qualities, where Japanese tango also becomes an export. It is also suggested that, in certain respects, the institutionalisation of Japanese tango culture bypasses the East-West axis to stress a Japan-Argentina nexus. Her forthcoming book chapter explores the dynamics of tango culture in Japan during the interwar period. 

Research interests: Music and Anthropology; Cultural Transmission; Dancehall Cultures; Music and Colonialism; Music and Modernity; South American Popular Music; Music and Emotions/Nostalgia; Working in Music; Music Pedagogy and Institutionalisation; Japanese Popular Music 


Personal profile

Yuiko Asaba’s research interests are the direct result of her successful international career as a Tango violinist and singer. After winning a full Music Scholarship to attend Wells Cathedral School at the age of thirteen, Yuiko completed her BMus (Hons) and MA at Royal Holloway, specialising in ethnomusicology. During her study, she continued her violin training with Nona Liddell (*former leader of London Sinfonietta).

In Argentina, Yuiko studied with Fernando Suárez Paz (*violinist of Astor Piazzolla’s “Quinteto Tango Nuevo”), and received a Diploma. Yuiko then completed the two-year programme at Tango Orchestra School Emilio Balcarce in Buenos Aires, the experience of which became the basis for her Masters dissertation on techniques of Tango violin performance. Her encounter with mugre, an aesthetical concept of Argentinean Tango music, led her to present a conference paper titled “The notion of mugre in Argentinean tango violin performance” at National Graduate Conference for Ethnomusicology (2006). Back in Buenos Aires, Yuiko joined the National Orchestra of Argentine Music “Juan de Dios Filiberto”, with which she performed for three years and recorded two CD albums “Tango” and “Folklore” as assistant to the leader and the renowned violinist Rafael Gintoli (Típica Records, Argentina, 2008). Yuiko also recorded for the last two CD albums of the late Mercedes Sosa, "Cantora 1" (*Latin Grammy Award for Best Folk Album, 2009) and "Cantora 2" (Sony B.M.G, 2009). 

In her native country of Japan, Yuiko has performed with Tango Orchestra “Astrorico”. In 2012, Yuiko released her first solo CD album “Historia del Tango… y Yo” (Olive Project, Japan) both as violinist and singer. (*To watch the CD promotional video filmed in Buenos Aires, in which Yuiko performs Bordel from Astor Piazzoll's "Historia del Tango", please visit :YouTube "Historia del Tango...y Yo" . The CD contains full four movements of "Historia del Tango" ) The CD was recorded with some of the most noted Tango musicians from Argentina at the acclaimed ION Studios in Buenos Aires. The CD has won much critical acclaim both from Latin American and Classical Music critiques in Japan. For more information, please see Official Blog.


Course Tutor

2012 - 2017 Royal Holloway, University of London: Tutor/Lead workshop designer (Argentine tango performance workshop) - MU1119 Creative Ensemble Performance (Music: first-year undergraduate course).


Visiting Tutor/Marker

2014 - 2015 Royal Holloway, University of London: MU2003 Studies in Ethnomusicology (Music: second-year undergraduate course).

2013 - 2015 Royal Holloway, University of London: MU1111 Practical Musicianship (Music: first-year undergraduate course).

2013 - 2014, 2016 - 2017 Royal Holloway, University of London: MU1116 Introduction to World Music (Music: first-year undergraduate course).


Dissertation Supervisor

2013 - 2014 Royal Holloway, University of London: Lead undergraduate dissertation supervisor (now Centre for Development of Academic Skills, former Royal Holloway International: Pre-Masters Diploma for International Students). Shanshan Chen: "A comparison of the National Music Examination in piano between the UK and China".


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