Home > about

This post is also available in: Japanese

Makoto Nomura, born in Nagoya in 1968, is one of the most innovative Japanese composers in 21st century. His music activities are diverse, such as contemporary composer, experimental composer, pianist, melodica player, roof tile player, sound artist, and creative music educator.

1) composer

He is a contemporary and experimental composer.

a) as a contemporary composer

He is a poly-stylistic post-modernist composer. As a self-taught contemporary composer he has got commissions from classical musicians for chamber music, symphony orchestra etc. His works have been performed by Japan Century Symphony Orchestra, Bochumer Symfoniker, Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra, Tomoko Mukaiyama, Yuji Takahashi, Mie Miki, Aki Takahashi, Tomomi Ota, Grzegorz Stopa, Mari Fujiwara, Katsuya Matsubara, Yoshiko Kanda, Kenichi Nakagawa, Enrico Bertelli, Yusuke Kataoka in a number of countries including Germany, UK, France, USA, Russia, Bulgaria, Korea, Indonesia, Belgium, Netherland, Malaysia. Some of his works are published by the Mother Earth Publishing, eg. “Away From Home With Eggs” for piano commissioned by Tomoko Mukaiyama, “How Many Spinatch Amen!” for accoridon, violin and violoncello,which was commissioned by Mie Miki etc. Other scores are available from the composer.

b) as an experimantal composer

As an experimental composer he directs a concert in a swimming pool, zoo, public bath, campsite, and so on.

Nomura conducted for the concert in a swimming pool

Nomura is conducting for the concert in a swimming pool. photo: UEDA Kazunori, Courtesy of Aichi Triennale 2010

Root Music (2012)

Root Music (2012), photo: YAMAMOTO Tadasu, courtesy of Aomori Contemporary Art Centre(ACAC), Aomori Public University

Makoto Nomura grew vegetables on his composition "Field of Music".

He loves collaborations and has collaborated with animals, children, dancers, vegetables. He has worked not only in the field of contemporary music but also in the fields of visual art, performance art, community art, and whatever he likes. 

c) as an Asian composer

Since he composed “Jogetlah! Beethoven” for Javanese gamelan and children’s choir in 1996, Nomura has composed lots of music for gamelan. In 2004, funded by Arts Network Asia he launched Asian improvised music project with a videographer Yukihiro Nomura and collaborated with Thai and Indonesian musicians and dancers both from traditional and non-traditional backgrounds. This culminated as i-picnic in the Kontraste Festival in Krems, Austria, in collaboration with Yohanes Subowo from Indonesia and Anant Narkkong from Thailand. In 2013 he got Asian Public Intelectual Fellowship from Nippon Foundation and write an essay and archived his research on collaborative composition in Indonesia and Thailand.

collaboration in Indonesia

collaboration in Indonesia

He is also very active to write music for Japanese traditional instruments, such as koto, shamisen, etc.

2) performer

a) as a pianist

He plays mainly his own composition and improvisation. In 2013 Tontuu Record produced his piano solo CD “NOMURANOPIANO”. As an improvising pianist, he has played with Charles Hayward, Otomo Yoshihide, Makoto Yoshimori, Kazutoki Umezu, Hugh Nankivell, Anant Narkkong etc.

b) as a melodica player

He is also known as the pioneer of innovative melodica performance.

In Japan melodicas have been regarded as instruments only for primary music education. Few musicians showed interest in them. In 1996 Nomura formed “P-blot” a first professional band entirely playing melodicas.

In 2006 Nomura launched melodica trio collection and started commissioning contemporary composers to write pieces for melodica trio, such as Kohei Kondo, Andrew Melvin, Carl Bergstroem Nielsen, Sachiyo Tsurumi, etc.

c) as a roof tile player

In 2013 Nomura launched a new project “Music on Kawara” or “Musik Genteng” with a percussionist/composer Kumiko Yabu, in which they use Japanese traditional rooftiles as musical instruments.

3) music education

a) as an ainotesan

He is also very active for creative music education. In 2006/2007 he produced legendary TV programme “Ainote“, which focused on experimental music for early-year children.

b) as a teacher

Nomura has been a Visiting Professor/Lecturer in several universities, Indonesia National University of Arts and Music in Indonesia, Tokyo University of the Arts, Kyoto University of Art and Design, Kyoto Women’s University in Japan etc.

c) community music

He has organised extremely creative community music projects. In 2014 Japan Century Symphony Orchestra appointed Nomura as the director of its community programme. He is also the director of Senju Pun-filled Music Festival
and composed/organised concert by 1010 people.

He has done hundreds of composition workshops with children, amateurs, old people, etc. He is also the founder of various international projects such as Asian collaborative improvisation project “i-picnic“, experimental community music theatre “Whaletone Opera“, “Keyboard Choreography Collection”
, “The Birth of Shogi Symphony” etc.

whaletone opera in 2006 @Ezuko Hall

workshop at Patravadi High School in Thailand


Nomura was born in 1968 in Nagoya, Japan. At the age of 8, he spontaneously started composing music. Soon after he started composition, he happened to listen to Bartok’s music. That was big impact on him. He decided to be a composer. When he was a high school student, he visited a composer Mikio Tojima who used to be the member of “Group Ongaku” which was the first music group of free-improvisation in Japan. When Nomura showed his piece to him, the composer said “If you don’t want to be a second-rate composer, you must not follow the corrections made by your  teachers.” He followed this suggestion and decided not to go to music college nor take any private lessons. Instead he studied mathematics at Kyoto University.

In 1990 just before he graduated from the university, he formed an experimental rock band “pou-fou”. Luckily “pou-fou” was chosen from over 2700 groups as the 1st prize of the New Artists’ Audition 91 by Sony Music Entertainment. In the next year pou-fou’s CD “Bird Chase” was released from Epic/Sony Record(ESCK 8018) and he started his professional carrier as a composer/pianist.

Through working with Sony Nomura became more interested in innocent music by children than skilled music by professionals. In 1994 he got the British Council Fellowship. As a visiting postgraduate student at York University he studied the relationship between contemporary composition and creative music education. He visited schools more than 80 times and discovered new music in children’s mischief. His article “Follow Children’s Music -the fundamental idea” was published in the British Journal of Music Education by Cambridge University Press in 1996.

After one year research in York, he got more interested in collaborating with Japanese and Asian musical instruments. Since he has composed “Jogetlah! Beethoven” for Javanese gamelan in 1996, he has composed many pieces for gamelan.

He has several CDs such as “Semi“,