Western Music and Its Others: Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music

By Georgina Born; David Hesmondhalgh | Go to book overview

Race, Orientalism, and Distinction
in the Wake of the “Yellow Peril”
Jann Pasler

By 1904, the French began to understand the Orient as something besides a vague, mostly passive “other, ” seductive as it might be, that served in the arts as the pretext for Western dreaming, escape, and an opportunity to foreground self-assertion. A fear of le péril jaune (the “yellow peril”) set fire in French imagination when, after agreeing in 1902 to side with the Russians in their Far Eastern imperialism, they watched in horror as the Japanese unexpectedly took on their ally, beginning a “war about race.” “It's the yellow race threatening the white race for the first time since Genghis Khan and his band of Tartars, ” a French critic wrote. If the Chinese should join the Japanese, as some predicted, their power would be “colossal, ” a “threat to the rest of the universe.” 1

French attitudes toward the East were in flux. With Turkey sympathetic to Germany and the Franco-Russian alliance encouraging the French to fund Russian imperialism, France's other expanded beyond North Africa and the Middle East to encompass her ally's other, the Far East. 2 But when the Far East proved to be a force with military power and the capacity to defeat the West, the discourses about it became complicated. Edward Said and others have taught us to associate Orientalism with narratives of national identity as well as struggles concerning gender, class, and race, always focused on the “positional superiority” 3 of one group vis-à-vis another. But after 1905, it was no longer unambiguous who was the stronger and who the weaker in the Orientalist's conventional binary constructions. Those who stood to profit from the growing interconnectedness of the international economy found it important to diffuse these binarisms, to reinterpret them in view of coexistence , at least from a Western perspective. Those who did not responded to this threat to Western hegemony by redefining the West and what was distinctive about it in new journals like L'Occident and La Renaissance latine.

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Western Music and Its Others: Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - On Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music 1
  • Notes 47
  • Musical Belongings - Western Music and Its Low-Other 59
  • Notes 78
  • Race, Orientalism, and Distinction in the Wake of the “yellow Peril” 86
  • Notes 110
  • Bartók, the Gypsies, and Hybridity in Music 119
  • Notes 137
  • Modernism, Deception, and Musical Others: Los Angeles Circa 1940 143
  • Notes 160
  • Experimental Oriental - New Music and Other Others 163
  • Notes 183
  • Composing the Cantorate - Westernizing Europe's Other Within 187
  • Notes 207
  • East, West, and Arabesk 213
  • Notes 229
  • Scoring the Indian - Music in the Liberal Western 234
  • Notes 251
  • The Poetics and Politics of Pygmy Pop 254
  • Discography 275
  • Notes 276
  • International Times - Fusions, Exoticism, and Antiracism in Electronic Dance Music 280
  • Notes 301
  • The Discourse of World Music 305
  • Notes 320
  • Contributors 323
  • Index 327
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