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Version 2I am a (comparative / ethno / cognitive) musicologist. I have been a leader in reviving the comparative study of the world’s music, through which I hope to better understand not only music itself, but also its broader relationship to cultural and biological diversity.

I submitted my Ph.D. dissertation in Musicology at the Tokyo University of the Arts on August 2, 2016 (expected graduation: March 2017). I received an M.Sc. in Psychology from McMaster University (Canada) and a B.A. in Music Composition from Amherst College (USA).

I have published on a variety of topics including musical universals, music and genetic anthropology, and automated methods for reconstructing folk song evolution. My research has been published in diverse academic journals including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Ethnomusicologyand has been covered by media including Quartz, NPR, and NBC News.

I am also a performer and composer of many different kinds of music, including Japanese folk song, choral, and jazz. I’ve appeared on Japanese national TV including Nippon TV and NHK.

For more details, see my Publications page, Google Scholar page, and CV.


The findings of Savage et al. raise provocative questions about musical structure, functions, and origins.” (Trehub, 2015, PNAS)
the comprehensive article looking to further development of comparative study by Savage and Brown (2013)…takes ethnomusicological traditions as its point of departure, but with an agenda of five “themes” – classification, cultural evolution, human history, universals, and biological evolution – one of its aims being a theory of the fundamental nature, origins, and evolution of music.” (Nettl, 2015, The study of ethnomusicology)

Header photo: Kawara festival drummers at the 2013 Rikuzentakata Ugoku Tanabata Festival (I’m down off-camera pulling their float). Credit: Kei Sato.

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