japonisme: tin pan alley goes to asia

06 May 2007

tin pan alley goes to asia

Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, places of mystery and attraction to the western civilization. Long a cradle of art, religion and civilization, Asia has always been an enigma and a land of the unknown and exotic ways for those of us in the Western world. In earlier times, many myths and misunderstandings prevailed about Asia due to its inaccessibility and hard to understand languages and ways. Today, we've learned much about Asia and now have a better understanding of the wonderful peoples of that far away continent. It was not always so.

In the middle 19th century, Asia became more open for the west and peoples from Asia began to emigrate to other parts of the world seeking opportunity and bringing their culture and manners to other parts of the world. As with many such influxes, much misunderstanding and misinformation resulted and as well, the ugly face of stereotypes, racism and prejudice raised their heads and took over reason. As we moved into the late 19th century and the early 20th, some better understanding was occurring but still, most Westerners and particularly Americans held inaccurate beliefs and understandings of Asian cultures and manners. The world of music was reflective of these misunderstandings and as Tin Pan Alley took on the subject of Asia and Asian music, we saw a large number of songs emerge that idealized Asian culture and mostly missed the mark when it came to accuracy.

This month's issue looks at some of the music from Tin Pan Alley that used Asian and Oriental themes as a basis for the music and lyrics. As we will see, many of the composers and lyricists did a wonderful job of writing music but failed miserably when it came to accuracy about the lands and peoples and their music. Nonetheless, as always, the writers of American songs managed to provide us with great songs and entertainment. After all, that is what it was all about.

Come with us now as we visit exotic Asia and the Orient as seen through the eyes of Tin Pan Alley's early songwriters. As always, this issue is on two separate pages so don't miss page two of this issue.

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Blogger Delphine R2M said...

I just realized wisteria and Lilly of the valley both came from Japan...

(Something totally different: could you explain me, if you have 5 minutes, how you changed the blogger banner into a personal one?)

07 May, 2007 06:29  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

aren't they lovely? i never saw this alternate spelling of wisteria!

left info on your blog....

07 May, 2007 08:09  
Blogger Delphine R2M said...

Neither do I! Thank you for your explanations, I will try...

07 May, 2007 08:55  
Blogger harlequinpan said...

i love these!especially the "NUITS D'ASIC" and last posted "FUJI".

08 May, 2007 20:34  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

you have such a great eye! did you notice that the nuit one is by rene magritte? and that fuji one is so interesting. i actually had to look at it for a while before i saw it.

btw i'd heard of pattern language, and i thought your choice to use it like that was really interesting! (still, not to suggest i really know what it means....)

08 May, 2007 20:42  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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