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Old 02-06-2005, 06:27 PM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is offline
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,905
Hereare some excerpts from a paper entitledOrientalism and Musical Style .

Originally Posted by Derek B. Scott
Sidney Jones made the more common move from Japan to China, when he followed up his musical success of 1896, The Geisha, with San Toy of 1899. Puccini moved just as easily from Japan to China (Madama Butterfly to Turandot). Ping, Pong and Pang (Turandot) are Chinese stereotypes. Note, especially, their Non v'è in China towards the end of Act II, scene 1, with its staccato chords, glittering timbre (harp, celeste, glockenspiel), pentatonicism, and singing in octaves rather than harmony. In accordance with the ideological assumption that the `lower orders' are more ethnically rooted than the `higher', lowly Liù is given the pentatonic treatment, but not the Prince: see Signore, ascolta! followed by Non piangere, Liù! from Act I. Puccini's augmented triads, gongs, etc. (from Butterfly and Turandot) are inherited by Ketèlbey and paraded in his In a Chinese Temple Garden.

Sir Edwin Arnold's Light of Asia is the inspiration for Fred Weatherly's `Nirvana' (1900, music by Stephen Adams). Here, chinoiserie is constructed by bare fifths, pentatonic melody and the rhythmic pulse of the piano accompaniment... Pentatonicism and parallel fourths are the basic signifiers for chinoiserie; see Ravel's characterisation of the China cup in L'Enfant et les Sortilèges (1925), especially from figure 37 in the orchestral score. (That the parallel fourths are played on the celesta is also significant.)

The twentieth century's most successful Orientalist musical (prior to Miss Saigon) was Chu Chin Chow (music by Frederic Norton, 1916). The film version of 1934 opens with an image of an enormous cake in the shape of a domed palace or Mosque....

The Far Eastern Orientalist style soon passed into dance band music and film music. An example is Ambrose's recording of `A Japanese Dream'.[28] Roy Prendergast has remarked of the `Chinese' music in films of the 1930s and `40s, "The Western listener simply does not understand the symbols of authentic Oriental music as he does those of Western music; therefore, Oriental music would have little dramatic effect for him."[29] An example of more recent pop chinoiserie is David Bowie's `China Girl'...

There is a popular misconception to correct. Orientalist music is not poor imitation of another cultural practice: its purpose is not to imitate but to represent.
I think these exerpts lend weight to my assertion that although we can all recall a specific instance of this form, that the form itself has no named precedent other than the body of western-composed Orientalist music.