Music of Group Ongaku album cover
Music of Group Ongaku

Group Ongaku

Hear Sound Art Library

An early landmark in the history of collective musical improvisation as a genre of sorts, Group Ongaku was formed in the late fifties by six student composers at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts & Music. They only lasted for four years, but in that time the group, which included Fluxus member Takehisa Kosugi and future sound art pioneer Yasunao Tone, decentralised the roles of instrumentation and structure, making compelling free-sound experiments with unlikely objects (dishes, vacuum cleaner, etc.), tape, and a panoply of musical instruments drawn from the university’s ethnomusicology department. There’s an energy and deep curiosity in the exploration here that transcends the group’s grounding in academic composition, and the whole set feels remarkably prescient.

Jon Dale

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