Louder and Faster is a cultural study of the phenomenon of Asian American taiko, the thundering, athletic drumming tradition that originated in Japan. Immersed in the taiko scene for twenty years, Deborah Wong has witnessed cultural and demographic changes and the exponential growth and expansion of taiko, particularly in Southern California. Through her participatory ethnographic work, she reveals a complicated story embedded in memories of Japanese American incarceration and legacies of imperialism, Asian American identity and politics, a desire to be seen and heard, and the intersection of culture and global capitalism. Exploring the materialities of the drums, costumes, and bodies that make sound, analyzing the relationship of these to capitalist multiculturalism, and investigating the gender politics of taiko, Louder and Faster considers both the promises and pitfalls of music and performance as an antiracist practice. The result is a vivid glimpse of an Asian American presence that is both loud and fragile.
“Louder and Faster is a remarkable work of astounding breadth and originality. It is sure to become an instant classic.” SHAWN BENDER, author of Taiko Boom
“Illuminating how taiko is an instrument for Asian American community activism, this book provides a rare opportunity for readers to get inside a taiko player’s body and mind to experience her journey.” MASUMI IZUMI, author of The Rise and Fall of America’s Concentration Camp Law
“Deborah Wong’s new book is a model of the very best in ethnomusicological love and care. It forges many new directions built respectfully from, and with full acknowledgement of, fruitful directions forged by others.” SHERRIE TUCKER, author of Dance Floor Democracy
“A deeply moving account, Louder and Faster is a revelatory book.” GRACE WANG, author of Soundtracks of Asian America
DEBORAH WONG is Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Riverside. She is the author of Sounding the Center and Speak it Louder.
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Wong, D. 2019. Louder and Faster: Pain, Joy, and the Body Politic in Asian American Taiko. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.71
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