Along with only a handful of other musicians, Miya Masaoka succeeded in introducing the koto to the world of avant-garde music. Based on the West Coast in the early '90s, she first got noticed for her collaborations with Pharoah Sanders, Wadada Leo Smith, and Henry Kaiser, and for highly original mixed media installations and site-specific performances. By the late '90s, she had turned mostly to free improvisation, expanding the possibilities of her instrument with an electronic interface. Her most high-profile activity was her participation in Fred Frith's trio project Maybe Monday.
A string instrument with a history arching back to the 11th century, the koto is the instrument most closely associated with Japanese tradition. Masaoka, a Japanese American born in Washington, D.C., got her first contact with it through a cousin residing in ... Read Full Biography