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Integrating Live Computer Tools into the Creation, Adaptation, and Performance of Japanese Noh Theatre

This paper introduces the technical and aesthetic issues of integrating live computer tools into the creation, adaptation, and performance of Noh. My method is based on a thematic analysis of the audio processing utilized by Joji Yuasa in his 1961 musique concrète adaptation of Aoi no Ue, the classic Noh. Yuasa’s adaptation is used as a template for developing real-time audio processing tools for performances of Noh. Through Yuasa’s formal training in Noh and closeness to its traditions in his selection and application of audio processing techniques, I am expanding his vision from the studio to the stage in collaboration with certified Noh instructor-performers from Theatre Nohgaku, the Noh ensemble led by Richard Emmert. Sound reinforcement, wireless audio, wearable technology, gestural controls, third-wave human-computer interaction, and the differences between authentic Noh, Noh-expansion, and Noh-inspired works are discussed to foster interdisciplinary, practice-based collaboration with Noh ensembles. Initial findings from the thematic analysis are then presented alongside designs and recommendations for Max/MSP packages for the five categories of Noh. As a 650-year-old UNESCO-protected traditional art that is experiencing youth disengagement, the goal is to ignite interest in Noh amongst digital natives by integrating live computer tools into its traditional practices with a high degree of authenticity.


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