Music Exoticism
by
W. Anthony Sheppard
  • LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 February 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0123

Introduction

In much of the extensive literature on the subject, exoticism is considered a form of representation in which peoples, places, and cultural practices are depicted as foreign from the perspective of the composer and/or intended audience. In earlier usage of the term, “exoticism” and “exotic” referred to an inherent quality or status of the non-Western other. More recently, exoticism has been understood to require an imaginative act of representing, perceiving, and classifying on the part of the beholder. In this sense, “exoticism” is most properly considered in its predicate form: to exoticize, both through acts of representation and perception. Postcolonial studies emphasize the political functions of exotic representation in the power dynamics between imperialist powers and the subaltern rather than detailing stylistic influence. Although cross-cultural influence and exoticism are not easily disentangled, the emphasis here will be on representation rather than on issues of contact and appropriation. Scholars differ on the relationship between the term exoticism and such other terms as Orientalism, primitivism, medievalism, and archaicism. For the purposes of this bibliographical article, and reflecting current scholarly usage, we will consider exoticism as a term encompassing the others and as roughly equivalent to Orientalism. Although clearly related, nationalism and folklorism are typically treated separately and will not be included here. The pervasive impact of racial perceptions and realities on the production and consumption of music clearly shapes musical exoticism. Examples of exoticism may be found throughout history and across the globe and in genres ranging from opera seria to ringtones. Though most scholarship on musical exoticism has been focused on Western art music, this article will include citations of work on exoticism in popular music and on alternative forms and sites of exotic representation.

General Overviews

General studies of exoticism tend to offer either a critical overview of the scholarly field and exploration of the term itself or a broad chronological survey of examples from Western music history. Locke 2009 offers both approaches in one volume, as does Taylor 2007, though in a less focused format. Born and Hesmondhalgh 2000 presents the most critically focused exploration of the term, engaging with postcolonial perspectives and the role of exoticism in political power relations, and Head 2003 is a pointed critique of the scholarly field, with Bellman 2011 serving as a rebuttal and critique of postcolonial approaches. Bellman 1998 is a collection that offers focused case studies of major examples of Western exoticism, and Scott 1998 briefly catalogs similar examples, as does Parker 1917, an essay of primarily historical interest. Although not a work of musical scholarship, Said 1978 must be noted here as a foundational text. Said’s argument that the European study and representation of exotic others supported imperialist political projects has been hugely influential in musical scholarship on exoticism.

  • Bellman, Jonathan, ed. The Exotic in Western Music. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998.

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    Multiauthored collection offering a solid introductory survey of musical exoticism. Case studies, including on alla turca, representations of Spain and Gypsies/Roma, Russian exoticism, the influence of gamelan music in the West, Indian influence on popular music, and jazz and exoticism. A brief introduction emphasizes cross-cultural influence and authorial intent as central to exoticism.

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  • Bellman, Jonathan D. “Musical Voyages and Their Baggage: Orientalism in Music and Critical Musicology.” Musical Quarterly 94 (2011): 417–438.

    DOI: 10.1093/musqtl/gdr014Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Considers Edward Said’s political critique of Orientalism, the overlap of Orientalism and exoticism, and its application to music criticism in such examples as Said 1993, Richardson 1999 (cited under 1950–Present), and (particularly) Locke 2009. Criticizes “narrow” and reductivist approaches to musical exoticism allegedly found in postcolonial studies, with Head 2003 as the primary target.

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  • Born, Georgina, and David Hesmondhalgh, eds. Western Music and Its Others: Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

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    Multiauthored volume opening with an extended introduction to fundamental questions relevant to exoticism generally, as well as discussion of postcolonial analysis and globalization. Essays explore a wide range of 20th-century examples and include historical and ethnomusicological approaches. This volume’s introduction (focusing on critical approaches) combined with Bellman 1998 (focusing on repertoire) offers a strong introduction to exoticism.

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  • Head, Matthew. “Musicology on Safari: Orientalism and the Spectre of Postcolonial Theory.” Music Analysis 22 (2003): 211–230.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.0262-5245.2003.00180.xSave Citation »Export Citation »

    An extended review of Bellman 1998. (Bellman 2011 is a rejoinder.) Discusses Locke 1991 (cited under Opera), McClary 1992 (cited under Opera), and Brett 2006 (cited under 1950–Present). Argues there has been a retreat from critical theory in recent writing on musical exoticism, taking Bellman 1998 to task for observing examples of musical Orientalism without evaluating them in political terms.

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  • Locke, Ralph P. Musical Exoticism: Images and Reflections. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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    A culmination/compilation of Locke’s extensive work on exoticism. Offers a fundamental overview accessible to a general audience. Explores multiple applications of the terms “exoticism” and “Orientalism” and argues that music functions within exotic representation both with and without exotic stylistic markers. Numerous examples from the baroque period to the early 21st century.

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  • Parker, D. C. “Exoticism in Music in Retrospect.” Musical Quarterly 3.1 (1917): 134–161.

    DOI: 10.1093/mq/III.1.134Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Very broad survey of exoticism organized by composers’ nationality, interweaving discussion of national styles, nationalism, and exoticism in music and literature. Of primary interest in comparison with those recent surveys likewise devoted to repertoire and categorization. Argues exoticism in compositions is an “accretion”—thus an ornament, or a distraction. Examples from 19th and early 20th centuries.

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  • Said, Edward W. Orientalism. New York: Pantheon, 1978.

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    Seminal text redefining “Orientalism.” Argued that European pursuit of knowledge about the “East” was not a politically neutral enterprise producing “truth,” but instead served imperialism. Noted that the “Near East” was routinely depicted as feminine, static, and decorative, and as dangerous, deceitful, and irrational. Orientalist conceptions and representations enabled the West to claim authority over the Orient.

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  • Scott, Derek B. “Orientalism and Musical Style.” Musical Quarterly 82.2 (1998): 309–335.

    DOI: 10.1093/mq/82.2.309Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Offers a broad survey of Orientalist representation in Western music, noting changes in stylistic particularity over time in multiple examples. Structured by geographic areas commonly depicted in European music. Repeats the point that composers of musical Orientalism sought to represent rather than imitate the exotic other. Instructive to compare with Parker 1917.

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  • Taylor, Timothy D. Beyond Exoticism: Western Music and the World. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822389972Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A renewed call for more ethnomusicological/contextual approaches to the study of music history. Argues for acknowledgment of the inherent multiplicity of exoticism and discusses globalization in music. Rather brief engagements with numerous examples ranging from early opera to pop to recent television commercials.

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Reference Works

Betzwieser and Stegemann 1995 (available only in German) offers a thorough and conventional definition of exoticism, focusing on stylistic features and listing examples, and an extensive biography up to the early 1990s. Bartoli 2007 offers an overview not dissimilar in approach from others such as Scott 1998 (cited under General Overviews). Numerous forms of exoticism are not included by Bartoli. Sheppard 2014 surveys trends in operatic scholarship focused on exoticism. Locke’s brief entries in Grove Music Online (Locke 2010a and Locke 2010b) overlap in ways that suggest the near equivalence of these terms. The bibliographies and examples are up to date but are not entirely focused on these terms.

  • Bartoli, Jean-Pierre. “Orientalisme et Exotisme de la Renaissance a Debussy.” In Musiques: Une encyclopédie pour le XXie siècle. Vol. 5, L’unité de la musique. Edited by Jean-Jacques Nattiez, 155–181. Arles, France: Actes-Sud, 2007.

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    Originally published in Italian. An encyclopedic essay launched with a discussion of Said. Survey structured in four periods: the moresca period extending into the 17th century; alla turca from Lully through Haydn and Mozart; musical “local color” in the 19th century; and, briefly, the modern period exemplified by Debussy and understood as distinctly separate.

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  • Betzwieser, Thomas, and Michael Stegemann. “Exotismus.” In Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart. 2d ed. Sachteil, Vol. 3. Edited by Ludwig Finscher, 225–243. Kassel, Germany: Bärenreiter, 1995.

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    Most thorough dictionary entry for the term, tracing its history and listing numerous examples for the 17th/18th-century period and the 19th/20th-century period. Offers extensive bibliography, especially inclusive of German and French sources, up through the early 1990s.

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  • Locke, Ralph P. “Exoticism.” In Grove Music Online. 2010a.

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    Cites a broad range of examples, emphasizing “evocation” of the exotic rather than cross-cultural influence. Notes role of extramusical features in signaling the exotic. Points to stylistic typologies and periodization of exoticism. Includes aspects of musical globalization within definition. Bibliography is up to date but not consistently focused on exoticism. A frequently revised and updated dictionary entry.

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  • Locke, Ralph P. “Orientalism.” In Grove Music Online. 2010b.

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    Defines Orientalism as distinct from exoticism. Asserts that “Orientalism” refers most appropriately to evocations of the Middle East and East Asia. Notes broader usage of the term and appearance of Orientalism in other art forms. Bibliography is up to date but not consistently focused on the subject. Frequently revised and updated dictionary entry.

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  • Sheppard, W. Anthony. “Exoticism.” In The Oxford Handbook of Opera. Edited by Helen M. Greenwald, 795–816. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195335538.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Offers a definition of exoticism and surveys evolving approaches to the study of operatic exoticism over the latter 20th century. Considers problematic questions of periodization and the relationship between exotic influence and exotic representation. Concludes with brief discussion of examples of modernist and postmodernist operatic exoticism in the 20th century.

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Western Art Music

Most scholarship on exoticism has been focused on its manifestations within Western art music. The common chronological divisions adopted here are somewhat arbitrary but do represent stylistic and conceptual shifts supported by the bulk of examples from each period. This periodization reflects the existing scholarship on exoticism in Western art music, but it has not gone uncontested in the literature, and several styles and topics cross these temporal boundaries. The rise of the alla turca style and proliferation of representations of the Ottoman Empire in the second half of the 18th century has long been viewed as a significant turning point in the history of musical exoticism. Likewise, the large number of Orientalist operas produced in the second half of the 19th century have received significant scholarly attention. The pre-1750 period has received a renewed focus in the study of musical exoticism. Scholars continue to debate whether works in the modernist and postmodernist periods represent a continuation of musical exoticism in Western art music or a break with the past and turn to a cross-cultural or transcultural hybridization of music beyond a representational impetus.

Pre-1750

To date, studies of exoticism in this period have tended to focus on but a few topics. European colonial engagements with North America resulted in representations of Native Americans in music and dance. Both Bloechl 2008 and Savage 1983 investigate this subject, but from widely divergent approaches. The prominence of exoticism in dance music of this period—notably in the moresca—is explored in Alm 1996 and Cummings 2011. Harris 2006 and Locke 2015, have recently opened up discussion of exoticism in baroque opera, particularly in works by Handel. The contextual approach found in Salmen 1997 to the relationship between music and chinoiserie in the decorative arts offers one model for exploring exoticism in this period. Whaples 1998 and Locke 2015 offer the broadest surveys of exoticism in this extended early period.

  • Alm, Irene. “Dances from the ‘Four Corners of the Earth’: Exoticism in Seventeenth-Century Venetian Opera.” In Musica Franca: Essays in Honor of Frank A. D’Accone. Edited by Irene Alm, Alyson McLamore, and Colleen Reardon, 233–257. Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon, 1996.

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    Starts with an overview of Venice as a multicultural city and carnival as an opportunity for exotic masquerade. Focuses on choreographed representations of the Moors and Turks in Italian baroque opera. Includes a useful appendix grouped by ethnic/national/geographical representation.

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  • Bloechl, Olivia A. Native American Song at the Frontiers of Early Modern Music. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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    Example of postcolonial analysis. Argues that encounters with Native American music by the French and English from the 16th to 18th centuries dramatically shaped European music. Exotic representation and cultural encounter understood primarily as instrumental in defining the self. English masques and works of Lully and Rameau as examples.

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  • Cummings, Anthony M. “Dance and ‘the Other’: The Moresca.” In Seventeenth-Century Ballet: A Multi-Art Spectacle. Edited by Barbara Grammeniati, 39–60. Crossways, UK: Xlibris, 2011.

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    Brief reappraisal of the moresca as a dance of confrontation and exotic representation. Suggests that in cases without explicit reference, the dance may have referred obliquely to Islamic peoples and that ridicule of the exotic other was involved in some examples. Notes possible instrumental signs of the exotic in moresca pieces.

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  • Harris, Ellen T. “With Eyes on the East and Ears on the West: Handel’s Orientalist Operas.” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 36.3 (2006): 419–443.

    DOI: 10.1162/002219506774929863Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Historical study revealing the role of the board of directors in shaping 1720s productions at the Royal Academy of Music. The increase in Orientalist operas, particularly by Handel, was prompted by the board’s mercantile interests concerning the East India Company. Strong example of the connection between musical exoticism and the political and financial realm.

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  • Locke, Ralph P. Music and the Exotic from the Renaissance to Mozart. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511998157Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A wide-ranging contribution on early exoticism that encompasses examples of ballet, oratorios, and operas. Particular focus on examples by Purcell, Lully, Handel, Rameau, Gluck, and Mozart. Argues for adoption of a broad inclusive approach for studying works of musical exoticism, rather than a limited focus on striking stylistic details. A companion volume to Locke 2009 (cited under General Overviews).

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  • Salmen, Walter. “Chinoiserien in der Musik- und Tanzgeschichte bis 1800.” In Festschrift Christoph-Hellmut Mahling zum 65. Geburtstag. Edited by Axel Beer, Kristina Pfarr, and Wolfgang Ruf, 1171–1186. Tutzing, Germany: Hans Schneider, 1997.

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    Discusses rarely considered aspects of exoticism in 17th and 18th centuries, focusing on European fascination with China. Notes parallels between exoticism in music and the decorative arts. Reception of musical chinoiserie was shaped by exotic architectural decor and choreographed exoticism. Includes useful illustrations.

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  • Savage, Roger. “Rameau’s American Dancers.” Early Music 11 (1983): 441–452.

    DOI: 10.1093/earlyj/11.4.441Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Expresses surprise that Rameau’s music for the most part lacks exotic markers. Notes, however, Rameau’s investigations in Chinese music. Offers multiple 17th- and 18th-century European illustrations of Native Americans dancing. Also focuses on the reception of those Native Americans brought to Europe for display.

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  • Whaples, Miriam K. “Early Exoticism Revisited.” In The Exotic in Western Music. Edited by Jonathan Bellman, 3–25. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998.

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    Builds on the author’s 1958 dissertation on this subject. Briefly surveys other studies on early exoticism. Notes representations of Native Americans in European music from the 16th to 18th centuries. Also focuses on Lully and French representations of Turks. Offers multiple examples illustrating various musical devices of exoticism in this period.

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1750–1850

Most work on this period has focused on the so-called alla turca style and Western European representations of Ottoman culture and music. On this subject, Rice 1999 offers a solid historical survey, Hunter 1998 and Head 2000 develop insightful interpretive critiques, and Betzwieser 1993 considers lesser-known French manifestations. Betzwieser 1994 on alla turca in Rossini raises important issues of intra-Orientalist influence and the possibility of parody. Other studies of the period point to examples that either relate to succeeding developments in musical exoticism or to works that diverged from the typical forms of such representation. Lacombe 1999 studies French opera libretti that engaged with exoticism before the heyday of French Orientalist opera in the later 19th century. Gramit 2003 considers exoticism in Schubert’s lieder—a composer and genre not normally considered in such terms. Focusing on Haydn’s operas, Clark 2009 demonstrates that the portrayal of Jewish characters through music has long been a fashionable form of exoticism.

  • Betzwieser, Thomas. Exotismus und “Türkenoper” in der französischen Musik des Ancien régime: Studien zu einem ästhetischen Phänomen. Laaber, Germany: Laaber-Verlag, 1993.

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    Valuable in offering a focus on French alla turca rather than on the better-known Germanic examples. Argues that this form of exoticism was distinct and was shaped by French writings on exotic music based on encounters through travel.

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  • Betzwieser, Thomas. “A propos de l’exotisme musical de Rossini.” In Gioachino Rossini 1792–1992: Il testo e la scena. Edited by Paolo Fabbri, 105–126. Pesaro, Italy: Fondazione G. Rossini, 1994

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    Study of Rossini’s operatic alla turca. Points to the influence of Mozart on Rossini in detailed examples. In the early 19th century Rossini was already offering a parody of musical exoticism in his operas.

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  • Clark, Caryl. Haydn’s Jews: Representation and Reception on the Operatic Stage. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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    Traces Haydn’s portrayal of Jewish characters throughout his operatic career. Considers changes in this musical representation in light of contemporary developments in Austro-Hungarian public perception and treatment of the Jews. Final chapter considers the late-19th-century impact.

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  • Gramit, David. “Orientalism and the Lied: Schubert’s Du liebst mich nicht.” 19th-Century Music 27.2 (2003): 97–115.

    DOI: 10.1525/ncm.2003.27.2.97Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Rare example of scholarship on exoticism in this repertoire. Considers Schubert positioned between older alla turca and forms of musical exoticism that followed. Notes absence of conventional exotic markers and points to “extravagant modulations” in a lied on an exotic text. Remarks on Schubert’s association with a leading Orientalist scholar.

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  • Head, Matthew. Orientalism, Masquerade and Mozart’s Turkish Music. London: Royal Musical Association, 2000.

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    Presented as a new postcolonial approach to the widely discussed alla turca music of Mozart. Provides detailed discussion of specific examples in addition to new perspectives on musical exoticism generally. A concise study that should be considered in relation to Head 2003 (cited under General Overviews).

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  • Hunter, Mary. “The Alla Turca Style in the Late Eighteenth Century: Race and Gender in the Symphony and the Seraglio.” In The Exotic in Western Music. Edited by Jonathan Bellman, 43–73. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998.

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    Opens with discussion of the reception of Ottoman Janissary band music in Western Europe. Considers both the instrumental and stylistic markers of alla turca in some detail. Particularly important for its extended consideration of gender representation in Orientalist operas of the period. Examples from Gluck, Haydn, and Mozart.

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  • Lacombe, Hervé. “The Writing of Exoticism in the Libretti of the Opéra-Comique, 1825–1862.” Translated by Peter Glidden. Cambridge Opera Journal 11.2 (1999): 135–158.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0954586700004985Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Survey of libretti on exotic themes before the height of French operatic Orientalism. Categorizes the use of exoticism as serving an ornamental function, as a source of comedy, for its novelty, or as source of conventions, including particular exotic character types. Discusses multiple examples by Scribe.

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  • Rice, Eric. “Representations of Janissary Music (Mehter) as Musical Exoticism in Western Compositions, 1670–1824.” Journal of Musicological Research 19.1 (1999): 41–88.

    DOI: 10.1080/01411899908574768Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Extensive chronological survey, ranging from Lully through Beethoven. Opens with detailed discussion of Janissary music and Western encounters with it. Argues that investigation of the degree of accuracy in exotic imitation is of value. Observes an increase and then decrease in familiarity with Janissary music as evidenced by examples.

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1850–1900

Scholarship has been focused more intensely on manifestations of musical exoticism in this period than on any other. Examples of Orientalist opera have received the most sustained attention, and the most celebrated publications concerning musical exoticism have been devoted to these examples. Given opera’s particularly public and spectacular nature, it is not surprising that this genre would be most closely associated with contemporary European imperialistic exploits throughout the world. However, significant examples of musical exoticism from this period can be found in nonoperatic genres as well. For instance, scholars have focused repeatedly on the “gypsy” and “Spanish” styles in symphonic, vocal, and keyboard works.

Opera

Several of these publications have been highly influential, with Locke 1991 and McClary 1992 proving particularly seminal and offering models for a multifaceted investigation of prominent Orientalist operas. Taruskin 1992 and Parakilas 1993 exemplify a more longitudinal approach, with the former considering exoticism in one nation (Russia) over an extended period and the latter identifying a paradigmatic plot and musical devices common to numerous operatic works. Said 1993 and Locke 2005 both offer nuanced studies of Orientalism in Verdi’s Aida. Said 1993 represents a rare application by the author of his own theories of Orientalism as applied to the interpretation of music, and Locke 2005 exemplifies Locke’s repeated call for a more inclusive approach to the analysis and interpretation of Orientalist operas. Everist 1996 may be viewed as an early and qualified reaction to Locke 1991, McClary 1992, and Parakilas 1993 as it attempts to distinguish the terms “exoticism” and “Orientalism.” Morrison 2001 offers a case study of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sadko as a parody of Orientalist representation. Weiner 1995 presents a detailed and controversial claim that Wagner coded certain negative characters as Jewish by employing various anti-Semitic stereotypes.

  • Everist, Mark. “Meyerbeer’s Il crociato in Egitto: Mélodrame, Opera, Orientalism.” Cambridge Opera Journal 8.3 (1996): 215–250.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0954586700004730Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Considers possible typologies for “exoticism” in relation to the Meyerbeer opera. Appears to argue for a narrow application of the term “Orientalism,” but concludes that rigid definitions may be avoided if we expand our set of examples from the 18th and 19th centuries. Extended focus on sources of this opera.

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  • Locke, Ralph P. “Constructing the Oriental ‘Other’: Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila.” Cambridge Opera Journal 3.3 (1991): 261–302.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0954586700003530Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Perhaps the most cited study of musical exoticism and one of the earliest works of musical scholarship to reference Said’s theories of Orientalism. Points to Saint-Saëns’s attempts at exotic authenticity. Presents comparisons with contemporaneous Orientalist paintings. Notes the influence of this opera on a wide range of later works.

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  • Locke, Ralph P. “Beyond the Exotic: How ‘Eastern’ Is Aida?” Cambridge Opera Journal 17.2 (2005): 105–139.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0954586705002004Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Reflects on earlier studies of exoticism in Aida. Argues that all aspects of the opera—not only clear exotic musical stereotypes—should be considered in interpreting Orientalist representation. Considers costumes and staging of the original production in addition to multiple musical examples. Discusses late interview in which Verdi expressed anti-imperialist sentiments.

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  • McClary, Susan. Georges Bizet: Carmen. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

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    Opens with broader discussion of French Orientalism. Important early and incisive investigation of gender and race in relation to exotic representation in opera. An early musicological engagement with the writings of Said. Thorough study of Bizet’s opera and its sources. Also considers cinematic versions of the tale.

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  • Morrison, Simon. “The Semiotics of Symmetry, or, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Operatic History Lesson.” Cambridge Opera Journal 13.3 (2001): 261–293.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0954586701002610Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Focuses on Rimsky-Korsakov’s 1896 opera Sadko, illuminating aspects of exotic representation particular to the perspectives of Russian composers. Claims the composer created a parody of Orientalism and nationalism in this opera, thereby achieving a stylistic universality rather than a specifically Russian musical style.

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  • Parakilas, James. “The Soldier and the Exotic: Operatic Variations on a Theme of Racial Encounter.” Opera Quarterly 10.2 (1993): 33–56.

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    Presents detailed account of paradigmatic plot elements central to Orientalist opera in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, specifically the device of a Western male traveling to exotic land and becoming romantically involved with exotic woman. References to numerous examples, including American operas, with a focus on Bizet’s Carmen. Continues in Opera Quarterly 10.3 (1994): 43–69.

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  • Said, Edward W. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Knopf, 1993.

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    Book includes Said’s own attempt to consider opera in light of his theories of Orientalist representation in a section devoted to Verdi’s Aida. Places emphasis on the historical circumstances surrounding the commission and composition of the opera. A nuanced and somewhat ambiguous interpretation of exoticism in this work. Discussion of Aida originally published in 1987.

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  • Taruskin, Richard. “‘Entoiling the Falconet’: Russian Musical Orientalism in Context.” Cambridge Opera Journal 4.3 (1992): 253–280.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0954586700003797Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Notes multiple parallels between Russian examples of musical Orientalism and contemporary Russian imperialist ventures. Steps back from direct political accusations, but offers a periodization of Russian Orientalism based on imperial history. Discusses works by Glinka, Balakirev, Rachmaninoff, and Borodin. Critically stimulating and important for its focus on Russian examples.

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  • Weiner, Marc. Richard Wagner and the Anti-Semitic Imagination. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995.

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    Argues that several of the more negative characters in Wagner’s music dramas are coded as Jewish through the application of a variety of anti-Semitic stereotypes, including olfactory, physical, and sonic characteristics. Focuses particularly on the roles of Mime and Alberich in Siegfried and Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger.

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Other Genres

These works investigate musical exoticism in a number of instrumental and popular late-19th-century genres. Beckerman 1989 is one of the very first musicological publications to approach exoticism from a position inspired in part by Said. Bellman 1993 is a detailed and extensive study of the “Hungarian-Gypsy” style in European music. Piotrowska 2013 presents a thorough discussion of Gypsy/Roma music and its influence from roughly 1750 to 1950 in multiple genres. Baumann 1996 and Parakilas 1998 offer complementary surveys of the influence and representation of the “Spanish” style, focused primarily on the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Gradenwitz 1976 represents a pre-Saidian, uncritical celebration of the Orientalist music of Félicien David—a composer frequently cited as highly influential for later French Orientalist composers. Bartoli 1997 is an analytical study that is focused on numerous lesser-known examples and that attempts to detail the stylistic devices signaling the exotic in French music of the period.

  • Bartoli, Jean-Pierre. “L’orientalisme dans la musique française du xixe siècle: La ponctuation, la second augmentée et l’apparition de la modalité dans les procédures exotiques.” Revue Belge de Musicologie 51 (1997): 137–170.

    DOI: 10.2307/3687188Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Focuses on the evolving musical signs of the exotic deployed by French composers in the second half of the 19th century. Inspired by communication theory, considers composers’ attempts to persuade and to claim authenticity. Analytical discussion of little-known instrumental and vocal examples by David, Saint-Saëns, Reyer, Daniel, and Gounod.

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  • Baumann, Max Peter. “The Reflection of the Roma in European Art Music.” World of Music 38.1 (1996): 95–138.

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    Thorough survey of the representation of Gypsies (Roma) in European music from the Renaissance to the early 20th century. Includes focus on Spanish composers in addition to examples by Bizet, Liszt, Brahms, and Ravel. Useful appendix listing operas with Gypsy representation from the 18th and 19th centuries.

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  • Beckerman, Michael. “The Sword on the Wall: Japanese Elements and their Significance in The Mikado.” Musical Quarterly 73.3 (1989): 303–319.

    DOI: 10.1093/mq/73.3.303Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An early musicological application of Said’s theories of Orientalism. Offers detailed identification of Japanese musical elements in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado as well as discussion of the work in relation to contemporary popular interest in all things Japanese.

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  • Bellman, Jonathan. The Style Hongrois in the Music of Western Europe. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1993.

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    An extensive study of the Hungarian-Gypsy style in 19th-century music. Following an overview of alla turca, investigates the origins of the style hongrois and representations of Gypsies (Roma) in 19th-century popular culture more broadly. Offers detailed listing of stylistic markers and focuses on works by Weber, Schubert, Liszt, and Brahms.

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  • Gradenwitz, Peter. “Félicien David (1810–1876) and French Romantic Orientalism.” Musical Quarterly 62.4 (1976): 471–506.

    DOI: 10.1093/mq/LXII.4.471Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Straightforward study of a composer often considered pivotal in the history of 19th-century exoticism. Offers a detailed chronicle of David’s travels in the Near East. Focuses on David’s Le Désert as an “authentically exotic” work, discusses its reception, and notes its influence on later composers.

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  • Parakilas, James. “How Spain Got a Soul.” In The Exotic in Western Music. Edited by Jonathan Bellman, 137–193. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998.

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    A broad and useful survey with discussion of numerous examples, primarily by French and Spanish composers, spanning the 19th and early 20th centuries. Discusses Spain’s exotic status in the imagination of other European nations.

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  • Piotrowska, Anna G. Gypsy Music in European Culture: From the Late Eighteenth to the Early Twentieth Centuries. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2013.

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    Presents a thorough discussion of Gypsy/Roma music and its influence, particularly in Hungary and Spain, from roughly 1750 to 1950 in multiple genres, including opera. Makes a distinction between Gypsy influence on musical nationalism and on exoticism.

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1900–1950

This period saw the emergence of American art music composers as well as the European reception of American culture and American popular music as exotic, most often defined and represented as such along racial lines. Composers in the United States frequently turned to “native” sources (“Indian” songs, “Negro spirituals,” jazz, etc.) in the attempt to create an “American” music distinct from European traditions. This process might be considered a form of nationalism, but certainly involved the imaginative work of exoticism as well.

Europe

European examples of musical exoticism are quite diverse in this period. Taken together, the essays in Maehder 1985 and Groos and Bernardoni 2008 provide wide-ranging perspectives on the Orientalist operas of Puccini—a figure central to musical exoticism in the early 20th century. Sheppard 2015 offers a revisionist perspective on Puccini’s exoticism. Chapters in Watkins 1994 present a broad cultural history of musical exoticism in this period, particularly in France and in works by Debussy and Stravinsky, and Garafola 1989 chronicles the career of the Paris-based Ballets Russes and the multiple Orientalist productions by that company. Both Orledge 2000 and Pasler 2008 discuss new directions in French exoticism in the early 20th century, with Orledge focusing on the music of Ravel and Pasler comparing encounters with India by Roussel and Delage. An early study of the Zeitoper genre, Cook 1988 explores the reception and representation of African American music in Germany during the Weimar period. Ghuman 2014 is focused on the influence and representation of India in English music during this period. Schatt 1986 offers detailed discussion of exotic influence and representation in works by multiple major modernist composers.

  • Cook, Susan C. Opera for a New Republic: The Zeitopern of Krenek, Weill, and Hindemith. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research, 1988.

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    Important study of the impact of jazz and perceptions of the United States (including of African Americans) on the music of Weimar Germany. Central to the Zeitoper genre was the evocative and exotic allure of American culture. Includes a useful appendix listing jazz-influenced classical works from both sides of the Atlantic.

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  • Garafola, Lynn. Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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    A general historical study of the ballet company that proved most central to the development of early musical modernism. Many productions by the Ballets Russes were on Orientalist and primitivist themes, and thus any study of exoticism in 20th-century music needs to engage with the company’s history.

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  • Ghuman, Nalini. Resonances of the Raj: India in the English Musical Imagination, 1897–1947. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199314898.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Offers focused case studies of individual encounters with Indian music by English composers and musicians and an ethnomusicologist. Particular focus on Holst. Discussion of Woodforde-Finden’s songs is especially relevant, as is chapter on Sorabji’s works and his own exotic status.

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  • Groos, Arthur, and Virgilio Bernardoni, eds. Madama Butterfly: L’orientalismo di fine secolo, l’approccio pucciniano, la ricezione. Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 2008.

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    A collection of conference papers, many of which are focused on aspects of exoticism in Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly and in related works of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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  • Maehder, Jürgen, ed. Esotismo e colore locale nell’opera di Puccini. Pisa, Italy: Giardini Editori e Stampatori, 1985.

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    A collection of conference papers, several of which are focused on exoticism in Puccini’s Turandot and Madama Butterfly. Other contributions explore Puccini’s techniques for composing “local color” in his operas and exoticism in works by other composers (such as Debussy) in the early 20th century.

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  • Orledge, Robert. “Evocations of Exoticism.” In The Cambridge Companion to Ravel. Edited by Deborah Mawer, 27–46. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521640268Save Citation »Export Citation »

    An exploration of exoticism in the music of Ravel. Argues that Ravel’s exoticism was distinct from that of earlier 19th-century French composers and was shaped by his encounter with gamelan music at the 1889 Exposition Universelle. Usefully includes Ravel’s engagements with jazz, representations of Gypsies, and connections to Spain, emphasizing biographical factors.

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  • Pasler, Jann. “Race, Orientalism, and Distinction in the Wake of the ‘Yellow Peril.’” In Writing Through Music: Essays on Music, Culture, and Politics. Edited by Jann Pasler, 249–282. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    An important comparative case study. Focuses on the divergent experiences of and creative responses to India and Indian music by the French composers Albert Roussel and Maurice Delage in the early 20th century. Begins with an overview of 19th-century French perceptions and musical representations of India.

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  • Schatt, Peter W. Exotik in der Musik des 20. Jahrhunderts. Munich: Musikverlag Emil Katzbichler, 1986.

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    A survey of exoticism in the first half of the 20th century with detailed discussion of examples by Strauss, Puccini, Mahler, Ravel, Stravinsky, Debussy, Messiaen, and Cage.

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  • Sheppard, W. Anthony. “Puccini and the Music Boxes.” Journal of the Royal Musical Association 140.1 (2015): 41–92.

    DOI: 10.1080/02690403.2015.1008863Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Reveals source for two major themes in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly—a Swiss music box playing Chinese melodies. Argues Puccini was not as devoted to “exotic authenticity” as has been assumed. Points to connections between Madama Butterfly and Turandot, and details influence of music boxes in both. Suggests mechanical sound of music boxes shaped representation of East Asians.

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  • Watkins, Glenn. Pyramids at the Louvre: Music, Culture, and Collage from Stravinsky to the Postmodernists. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 1994.

    DOI: 10.4159/harvard.9780674437418Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A stimulating work of cultural history that includes substantial discussion of Orientalism and primitivism in early-20th-century European music. Includes such topics as Debussy and gamelan music, the reception of jazz in France, primitivism in Stravinsky’s music, and the reception of jazz in New York City.

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United States

To a large extent, exoticism in art music in the United States has been intricately connected to composers’ attempts to create an “American” music distinct from European traditions. The representation of Native Americans and the use of Native American tunes by composers in the early 20th century is the subject of both Browner 1997 and Pisani 2005. Browner offers a critical perspective on the American “Indianist” composers and Pisani explores such representation in a broad historical framework. Rao 2001 and Sheppard 2008 both investigate in great detail the role of Asian musics in the career of Henry Cowell, with Rao focusing on the development of Cowell’s music theory and Sheppard tracing the long-term impact of Japanese music and culture on Cowell and comparing and connecting Cowell’s “ultramodern” exoticism with the “romantic” exoticism of Henry Eichheim. Barg 2000 and Allen and Cunningham 2005 both critically address the position of African American performers in works composed by white male composers (Virgil Thomson and George Gershwin, respectively) that represented African American music and culture. Focusing on the role of exoticism in the formation and reformation of a composer’s identity, Levy 2005 notes the shifts in musical style and representational targets in the career of Aaron Copland. Finally, Spiller 2009 uncovers multiple forms of exoticism in a comparison of settings of Javanese melodies by Paul J. Seelig and Charles T. Griffes and performances of this music by Eva Gauthier.

  • Allen, Ray, and George P. Cunningham. “Cultural Uplift and Double-Consciousness: African American Responses to the 1935 Opera Porgy and Bess.” Musical Quarterly 88.3 (2005): 342–369.

    DOI: 10.1093/musqtl/gdi018Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Reception history of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess from both sides of the racial divide. Notes initial white enthusiasm for the opera and negative critique from prominent black figures such as Duke Ellington. Major critical issue centered on degree of authenticity in the representation of black culture and music.

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  • Barg, Lisa. “Black Voices/White Sounds: Race and Representation in Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts.” American Music 18.2 (2000): 121–161.

    DOI: 10.2307/3052481Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Important for its focus on the role of performers in the construction of musical exoticism. Focuses on the impact of the all-black cast in the original production of the opera and identifies aspects of black minstrelsy. Considers staging, design, and choreography.

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  • Browner, Tara. “‘Breathing the Indian Spirit’: Thoughts on Musical Borrowing and the ‘Indianist’ Movement in American Music.” American Music 15.3 (1997): 265–284.

    DOI: 10.2307/3052325Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A critique of the “Indianist” movement in American music from 1890 to 1925, focusing on MacDowell and Farwell. Following Dvořák, composers sought to create an “American” music based on exotic Native American tunes. Valuable in conjunction with Pisani 2005.

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  • Levy, Beth E. “From Orient to Occident: Aaron Copland and the Sagas of the Prairie.” In Aaron Copland and His World. Edited by Carol J. Oja and Judith Tick, 307–349. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.

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    Traces shifts in Copland’s self-identifications and musical representations in his career. Copland is seen as moving beyond exotic Jewish and jazz markers to the construction of the American West through his compositions, thus transforming himself from a “modernist Jew” to an “Anglo mainstream icon.” Close readings and detailed archival information.

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  • Pisani, Michael V. Imagining Native America in Music. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005.

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    Remarkable for its historical sweep, as it covers examples from the precolonial period to the late 20th century. Includes discussion of European works of Native American musical representation, but focuses on the early and mid-20th century in American art, popular, and film music. Concise version appeared in Bellman 1998 (cited under General Overviews).

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  • Rao, Nancy Yunhwa. “American Compositional Theory in the 1930s: Scale and Exoticism in ‘The Nature of Melody’ by Henry Cowell.” Musical Quarterly 85.4 (2001): 595–640.

    DOI: 10.1093/mq/85.4.595Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A rare study linking exoticism to musical theory. Thorough discussion of Cowell’s 1937 unpublished treatise on melody. Reveals connections to the proceedings of the contemporaneous New York Musicological Society. Explores the role of exoticism in shaping Cowell’s theoretical perspectives and in the musical thought of members of the Society.

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  • Sheppard, W. Anthony. “Continuity in Composing the American Cross-Cultural: Eichheim, Cowell, and Japan.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 61.3 (2008): 465–540.

    DOI: 10.1525/jm.2008.61.3.465Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Compares engagements with Japan and Japanese music by American composers Henry Eichheim and Henry Cowell. Notes impact of literary japonisme on Eichheim and of Cold War cultural politics on Cowell. Argues against rigid definitions of cross-cultural influence and appropriation and points to similarities between the “romantic/impressionistic” Eichheim and “modernist/experimental” Cowell.

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  • Spiller, Henry. “Tunes that Bind: Paul J. Seelig, Eva Gauthier, Charles T. Griffes, and the Javanese Other.” Journal of the Society for American Music 3.2 (2009): 129–154.

    DOI: 10.1017/S1752196309090117Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Compares Griffes’s and Seelig’s settings of Javanese songs and Gauthier’s costumed performances in terms of Orientalist reception and representation. Argues that these three figures’ divergent approaches to Javanese music represent an inherent multiplicity in musical Orientalism. Adopts the framework for conceptualizing the utility of exoticism presented in Born and Hesmondhalgh 2000 (cited under General Overviews).

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1950–Present

This period in European and American musical exoticism is marked by the predominance of Asian influence and representations of Asian culture and music, particularly in works of the avant-garde as discussed in Corbett 2000 and Patterson 2002. Everett 2004 investigates the same period and several of the same composers but arrives at different conclusions. The persistence of exoticism in the postmodern period, with the work of John Zorn as its focus, is the subject of Hisama 2004. Both Brett 2006 and Cooke 1998 discuss exoticism in the music of Benjamin Britten, but from strikingly different perspectives. Cooke focuses primarily on details of musical influence in Britten’s works, and Brett addresses connections between Britten’s homosexual desire and interest in the exotic. Sheppard 2001 also discusses Britten’s musical exoticism—along with the works of later British composers, the American Harry Partch, and more recent Americans—exploring multiple forms of exotic influence and representation in works of modernist music theater. Richardson 1999 considers the relationship between exoticism and minimalism in his extensive study of Glass’s Akhnaten. Sheppard 2013 argues that exotic representation persists in the postmodern operas of Adams and Sellars.

  • Brett, Philip. “Eros and Orientalism in Britten’s Operas.” In Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology. 2d ed. Edited by Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas, 235–256. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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    Opened up the subject of the relationship between sexuality—particularly gay male desire—and exoticism. Focuses on Britten’s associations with Colin McPhee and the impact of gamelan music on his compositions, especially in dramatic scenes involving erotic desire. Sheppard 2001 offers relevant commentary. Originally published in 1994.

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  • Cooke, Mervyn. Britten and the Far East: Asian Influences in the Music of Benjamin Britten. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell, 1998.

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    Thorough study of Britten’s engagements with Indonesian and Japanese music. Focuses intently on description of musical influence and somewhat less on exotic representation in Britten’s works. Detailed in historical research and analytic description.

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  • Corbett, John. “Experimental Oriental: New Music and Other Others.” In Western Music and Its Others: Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music. Edited by Georgina Born and David Hesmondhalgh, 163–186. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

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    Controversial critical essay on exoticism and self-exoticism in works composed in the second half of the 20th century. Divides American composers into two groups: those whose interactions with exotic musical traditions recall 19th-century Orientalism and those who adopted an experimental standpoint. Includes discussion of Cowell, Cage, Tan Dun, and Zorn.

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  • Everett, Yayoi Uno. “Intercultural Synthesis in Postwar Western Art Music: Historical Contexts, Perspectives, and Taxonomy.” In Locating East Asia in Western Art Music. Edited by Yayoi Uno Everett and Frederick Lau, 1–21. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2004.

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    Offers a taxonomical approach to the multiple forms of musical “confluence” between East Asia and the West evident in postwar works. References multiple composers active in Europe, the United States, and Asia. Argues that this music represents a break with earlier forms of exoticism. Compare with Corbett 2000.

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  • Hisama, Ellie M. “John Zorn and the Postmodern Condition.” In Locating East Asia in Western Art Music. Edited by Yayoi Uno Everett and Frederick Lau, 72–84. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2004.

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    Incisive critical investigation of Zorn’s extensive interest in and representations of Asia and Asians. Particular focus on Zorn’s statements and the disturbing graphic images he chooses to include in recordings of his music. Related to Hisama 1993 (cited under Post-1950).

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  • Patterson, David W. “Cage and Asia: History and Sources.” In The Cambridge Companion to John Cage. Edited by David Nicholls, 41–59. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521783484Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Critical study of Cage’s use of South Asian and East Asian aesthetics and philosophy. Exemplary for its focus on connections between exoticism and the formation of a composer’s aesthetics. Of broader significance given the widespread influence of Cage’s writings.

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  • Richardson, John. Singing Archaeology: Philip Glass’s Akhnaten. Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1999.

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    Penetrating study of Glass’s opera about the ancient Egyptian pharaoh. Includes discussion of the influence of Indian music on Glass’s version of minimalism. Points to some aspects of Orientalism in Glass’s work, but concludes that Glass succeeds in differentiating his opera from earlier and other contemporary works of exoticism.

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  • Sheppard, W. Anthony. Revealing Masks: Exotic Influences and Ritualized Performance in Modernist Music Theater. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

    DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520223028.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Explores the term “exoticism,” arguing for a broad application including both geographical and temporal distance (e.g., medievalism). Views influence and representation as intertwined. Claims exoticism may be in play in works devoid of exotic markers. Relates exoticism to modernist perceptions of gender. Discusses examples by Britten, Partch, Reich, and Oliveros.

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  • Sheppard, W. Anthony. “The Persistence of Orientalism in the Postmodern Operas of Adams and Sellars.” In Representation in Western Music. Edited by Joshua S. Walden, 267–286. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139109413Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Claims that operatic Orientalist representation persists in multiple operas created jointly by John Adams and Peter Sellars. Calls into question the common assumption that modernist and postmodernist composers abandoned earlier representational techniques of musical exoticism. Discusses the writings of Adams and Sellars and their devotion to multiculturalism.

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Anglo-American Mass-Mediated Music

Exoticism in genres of popular music ranging from 19th-century minstrelsy to Tin Pan Alley songs to Hollywood film music to hip-hop has more recently received sustained scholarly attention. The year 1950 serves as a convenient, if somewhat arbitrary, point of division between the “golden age” of popular song and popular music in the rock era. Exoticism in Anglo-American mass-mediated music drew considerably upon late-19th- and early-20th-century techniques and signs of exoticism in Western art music. More recently, popular exoticism in the West has intersected with “world beat” and forms of musical globalization.

Pre-1950

In its focus on the 1916 hit musical Chu Chin Chow, Everett 2007 considers connections between British popular Orientalism and imperialist policies. Farrell 1997 addresses this subject more extensively in investigating the place of music in British interactions with the Indian colony. Both Tsou 1997 and Garrett 2004 uncover representations of Chinese Americans in the Tin Pan Alley era, and Lancefield 2004 presents an extensive and broadly inclusive study, rich with reproduced examples, of this and related topics. In its focus on the figure of Salome in Tin Pan Alley and vaudeville, Hamberlin 2006 resonates with these studies. Sheppard 2001 includes a detailed analysis of musical and cinematic techniques of exotic representation of the Japanese enemy during World War II. Pointing to the role of exoticism across another racial divide, Bean, et al. 1996 offers an anthology of important essays on various aspects of blackface minstrelsy.

  • Bean, Annemarie, James V. Hatch, and Brooks McNamara, eds. Inside the Minstrel Mask: Readings in Nineteenth-Century Blackface Minstrelsy. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1996.

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    Multiauthored collection of prominent articles on various aspects of blackface minstrelsy. Includes discussion of stereotypical representation through performance. Several essays also relevant to Self-Exoticism. Useful for courses on the subject.

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  • Everett, William A. “Chu Chin Chow and Orientalist Musical Theatre in Britain during the First World War.” In Music and Orientalism in the British Empire, 1780s–1940s: Portrayal of the East. Edited by Martin Clayton and Bennett Zon, 277–296. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

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    A study of the most popular British musical in the first half of the 20th century. Also successful in the United States. Details Orientalist representation in the lyrics and music and considers the work’s relationship to British foreign policy during this period. Compares representations of Chinese and Arabs in the work.

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  • Farrell, Gerry. Indian Music and the West. Oxford: Clarendon, 1997.

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    Most extensive study of Anglo-American engagements with and representations of Indian music and culture. Includes a chapter on representations of India and Indian influence in British popular song in the colonial period. Also focuses on the impact of recording technology.

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  • Garrett, Charles Hiroshi. “Chinatown, Whose Chinatown? Defining America’s Borders with Musical Orientalism.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 57.1 (2004): 119–173.

    DOI: 10.1525/jams.2004.57.1.119Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Multifaceted historical, analytical, and critical study of the major 1910 hit song “Chinatown, My Chinatown.” Detailed discussion of lyrics, music, cover art, and performance history. Argues that such songs shaped perceptions of Asians and Asian Americans in the United States. Also see Tsou 1997.

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  • Hamberlin, Larry. “Visions of Salome: The Femme Fatale in American Popular Songs before 1920.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 59.3 (2006): 631–696.

    DOI: 10.1525/jams.2006.59.3.631Save Citation »Export Citation »

    The figure of Salome was central to fin-de-siècle exoticism and the decadence movement in Europe and the United States. This study focuses on popular representations in American songs and on the vaudeville stage inspired in part by Strauss’s opera Salome. Related to Tin Pan Alley exoticism more generally.

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  • Lancefield, Robert Charles. “Hearing Orientality in (White) America, 1900–1930.” PhD diss., Wesleyan University, 2004.

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    Monumental study of archival detail and sophisticated critical interpretation. Thorough and sensitive approach to musical Orientalism in American popular culture. Focuses both on mainstream representations and the experience of Asian Americans. Rich in illustrations and examples.

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  • Sheppard, W. Anthony. “An Exotic Enemy: Anti-Japanese Musical Propaganda in World War II Hollywood.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 54.2 (2001): 303–357.

    DOI: 10.1525/jams.2001.54.2.303Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Detailed analytical and archival study of the multiple roles of music in wartime propaganda films. Focuses on both Hollywood feature and government-commissioned documentary films. Investigates the use of preexistent European music, stereotypical Orientalist signs, and traditional Japanese music against the exotic enemy.

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  • Tsou, Judy. “Gendering Race: Stereotypes of Chinese Americans in Popular Sheet Music.” repercussions 6.2 (1997): 25–62.

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    Pioneering study of representations of Asian Americans in the Tin Pan Alley era of American popular music. Focus on lyrics and graphic art, with multiple sheet music cover illustrations reproduced. Details the range of stereotypes employed in a large collection of songs.

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Post-1950

Clark 2002 focuses on the highly successful performer Carmen Miranda and on the ways in which she came to represent Latin America in Hollywood films through her musical performances. Wells 2011 details how Puerto Ricans were represented in Bernstein’s West Side Story and how the reception of this prominent work was shaped by the popularity of “Latin music” in the United States. McConachie 1994 claims that the musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein convinced many Americans of the necessity of fighting to stop communism in Southeast Asia. Both Hayward 1999 and Ford 2008 explore aspects of exotica, a 1950s and 1960s loosely defined genre of popular music, often featuring light jazz arrangements incorporating exotic instrumentation, which attracted renewed interest in the 1990s. Farrell 1997 covers the most prominent form of exoticism in popular music of this period—the widespread fascination with and impact of Indian music and culture in the 1960s. Hisama 1993 presents a pointed critique of the perpetuation of Orientalist stereotypes in 1980s popular songs. The broader and lasting impact of globalization and popular exoticism in the dynamics of world beat are discussed in Erlmann 1999, with Paul Simon’s Graceland album and the ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo as the case study. McLeod 2013 considers the impact of Japanese popular culture on African American hip-hop artists in the early 21st century.

  • Clark, Walter A. “Doing the Samba on Sunset Boulevard: Carmen Miranda and the Hollywoodization of Latin American Music.” In From Tejano to Tango: Latin American Popular Music. Edited by Walter A. Clark, 252–276. New York: Routledge, 2002.

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    Offers an overview of a major figure’s career with a focus on Hollywood’s typecasting in exotic representations. Miranda came to represent all of Latin America in US popular culture and drew on multiple Latin American elements. Usefully contrasts her reception in the United States and Brazil, thereby exploring an often neglected dimension of exoticism.

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  • Erlmann, Veit. Music, Modernity, and the Global Imagination: South Africa and the West. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195123678.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Critical study of globalization and representation in music with South African case studies. Includes extended discussion of Paul Simon’s 1986 Graceland album. Provokes consideration of the relationship between late-20th-century “world beat” and traditions of musical exoticism.

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  • Farrell, Gerry. Indian Music and the West. Oxford: Clarendon, 1997.

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    Most extensive study of Anglo-American engagements with and representations of Indian music and culture. Chapter on Indian influence and representation in 1960s pop and jazz music, with a focus on the Beatles.

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  • Ford, Phil. “Taboo: Time and Belief in Exotica.” Representations 103.1 (2008): 107–135.

    DOI: 10.1525/rep.2008.103.1.107Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A study of musical exotica—a popular form of musical exoticism prevalent in the United States in the 1950s. Focuses on exotica’s constructions of imaginary exotic locales and temporal experiences and its lingering impact on the 1960s counterculture. Explains that exotica demanded or inspired a suspension of disbelief in its audience.

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  • Hayward, Philip, ed. Widening the Horizon: Exoticism in Post-war Popular Music. Sydney: John Libbey, 1999.

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    A multiauthored collection focusing on examples of exotica—a popular form of musical exoticism particularly prevalent in the United States in the 1950s. This music, also referred to as “cocktail” or “lounge,” experienced a revival in the 1990s. Includes studies of such prominent figures as Martin Denny, Yma Sumac, Arthur Lyman, and Les Baxter.

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  • Hisama, Ellie M. “Postcolonialism on the Make: The Music of John Mellencamp, David Bowie, and John Zorn.” Popular Music 12.2 (1993): 91–104.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0261143000005493Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Frequently cited article on Orientalist representation in late-20th-century American popular music. Considers how the lyrics of late-20th-century popular songs depict Asian and Asian American women and the likely impact of such examples in shaping racist perceptions.

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  • McConachie, Bruce A. “The ‘Oriental’ Musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein and the U.S. War in Southeast Asia.” Theatre Journal 46.3 (1994): 385–398.

    DOI: 10.2307/3208614Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Makes provocative claim that specific Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals in the 1950s such as The King and I prepared the American public to accept the necessity of war in Vietnam. Focuses on lyrics, casting, and production but not on music. Notes that various exotic cultures in these musicals are presented equivalently.

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  • McLeod, Ken. “Afro-Samurai: Techno-Orientalism and Contemporary Hip Hop.” Popular Music 32.2 (2013): 259–275.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0261143013000056Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Considers the embrace of Japanese popular culture by such African American hip-hop artists as RZA, Kanye West, and Nicki Minaj to be a form of globalized hybridity in the early 21st century. Also points to techno-Orientalist representations of Japan in 1980s Western popular music. Notes that the high-tech aesthetic of Japanese pop resonates with Afro-futurism. Also see Hisama 2005 (cited under Self-Exoticism).

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  • Wells, Elizabeth A. West Side Story: Cultural Perspectives on an American Musical. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2011.

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    Discusses the context that shaped the creation and reception of Bernstein’s West Side Story. Notes contemporary fears of juvenile delinquency and perceptions of Puerto Ricans in New York City as well as the popularity of “Latin” music at the time in the United States. Offers some discussion of representations of “the Spanish” in European music and comments on Bernstein’s Candide.

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Other Forms

Recent scholarship has begun to consider alternative forms of exoticism beyond Western/white representations of the rest of the world. These forms include examples in which the subject presents him- or herself as exotic through performance and composition, most often in order to engage the interest of a dominant majority audience. Self-exoticism is not a new phenomenon—recall Franz Liszt’s self-presentation through composition and performance in Western Europe—but it was particularly prevalent in the 20th century. In addition, scholars have begun to note the appearance of exoticism in other locations beyond the Western sphere, as in intra-Asian exoticism or in music of African and Asian urban musicians defining their own modernity in contrast to native and rural traditions. Exotic representation of external and internal others continues to prove efficacious globally for artistic projects aimed at asserting superior cultural status and modernity and offering enticing entertainment.

Self-Exoticism

Watkins 1994 addresses the self-presentation of African American jazz musicians in the 1920s in the United States and Europe, focusing on Duke Ellington and Josephine Baker. Teal 2012 argues that Duke Ellington’s “jungle style” is evident throughout much of his career and thus was not solely a form of self-exoticism. Shank 2001 offers a broad and efficient overview of exoticism in the experience and reception of black music from the late 19th century to the late 20th century. Hisama 2005 represents a growing scholarly interest in relationships between African Americans and Asian Americans and their musical crossings of multiple racial lines, in this case in recent examples of hip-hop music. Sheppard 2004 offers a profile of a Japanese American composer and arranger whose career in Hollywood was profoundly shaped by musical self-exoticism. Aspects of exoticist reception and self-exoticism in the work of Tan Dun are explored in Sheppard 2009. Mitsui 1998 and Hosokawa 1999 launched the study of self-exoticism within East Asian popular music. Rasmussen 1992 is significant as a rare ethnographic study focusing on exoticism, in this case the self-exoticizing through musical performance of Arab Americans in “Middle Eastern” nightclubs in the United States. Solomon 2013 discusses the Orientalist self-presentation of the female Turkish entrant in the 2003 Eurovision Song Contest.

  • Hisama, Ellie M. “‘We’re All Asian Really’: Hip Hop’s Afro-Asian Crossings.” In Critical Minded: New Approaches to Hip Hop Studies. Edited by Ellie M. Hisama and Evan Rapport, 1–21. Brooklyn, NY: Institute for Studies in American Music, 2005.

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    Examines an important and complex subject: Orientalist representations and influences in black hip-hop in relation to Asian American identification with African Americans as expressed in examples of Asian American hip-hop. Also discusses the work of a Korean rapper influenced by Korean traditional music.

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  • Hosokawa, Shuhei. “Soy Sauce Music: Haruomi Hosono and Japanese Self-Orientalism.” In Widening the Horizon: Exoticism in Post-war Popular Music. Edited by Philip Hayward, 114–144. Sydney: John Libbey, 1999.

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    A study of self-Orientalism and parody in Japanese popular music. Hosono founded the Yellow Magic Orchestra and promoted Martin Denny’s exotica in Japan in the mid-1970s. Argues that Hosono exoticized American musical exoticism and deconstructed Orientalism through parody. Related to Mitsui 1998.

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  • Mitsui, Tôru. “Domestic Exoticism: A Recent Trend in Japanese Popular Music.” Perfect Beat 3.4 (1998): 1–12.

    DOI: 10.1558/prbt.v3i4.28736Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Views late-20th-century adoption of elements of traditional Japanese music within Japanese popular music as a form of self-exoticism. Suggests that this music represents both pan-Asian and domestic motivations and responses. Related to Hosokawa 1999.

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  • Rasmussen, Anne K. “An Evening in the Orient: The Middle Eastern Nightclub in America.” Asian Music 23.2 (1992): 63–88.

    DOI: 10.2307/834173Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Study of Arab American cooption of Orientalist stereotypes in the creation of highly successful “Middle Eastern” nightclubs in United States in the 1960s and 1970s. They developed a new musical style that blurred ethnic differences and was rooted in both tradition and Western exoticism. Rare and early study considering exoticism from an ethnomusicological perspective.

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  • Shank, Barry. “From Rice to Ice: The Face of Race in Rock and Pop.” In The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock. Edited by Simon Frith, Will Straw, and John Street, 256–271. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL9780521553698Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Broad survey, from early-19th-century blackface minstrelsy to late-20th-century hip-hop, of the exotic position of black music and musicians in American popular music. Focuses on the role of music in establishing racial identity. Includes a useful bibliography. An introductory essay for students to a very large subject.

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  • Sheppard, W. Anthony. “Representing the Authentic: Tak Shindo’s ‘Exotic Sound’ and Japanese American History.” Echo 6.2 (2004).

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    Profile of a Japanese American composer and arranger active in Hollywood film, television, and popular exotica in the 1950s and 1960s. Discusses experiences of Japanese Americans during World War II. Shindo’s self-exoticism is compared with the musical exoticism of Martin Denny. Based on archival research and oral history.

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  • Sheppard, W. Anthony. “Blurring the Boundaries: Tan Dun’s Tinte and The First Emperor.” Journal of Musicology 26.3 (2009): 285–326.

    DOI: 10.1525/jm.2009.26.3.285Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Case study of an opera by a prominent Chinese composer active in the West that calls into question distinctions between Romantic, modernist, and postmodernist Orientalism. Discusses critical reception and revisions to the opera. Notes other recent operas influenced by Chinese traditions and recent reception of Chinese opera in the West.

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  • Solomon, Thomas. “The Oriental Body on the European Stage: Producing Turkish Cultural Identity on the Margins of Europe.” In Empire of Song: Europe and Nation in the Eurovision Song Contest. Edited by Dafni Tragaki, 173–201. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2013.

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    Focuses on the 2003 Eurovision Song Contest winning performance by the female Turkish popular singer Sertab Erener. Considers this clear and controversial form of self-exoticism within a neo-Ottoman Turkish framework. A contemporary example of musical exoticism that resonates with older forms of alla turca discussed in Head 2000 and Hunter 1998 (both cited under 1750–1850), in particular.

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  • Teal, Kimberley Hannon. “Beyond the Cotton Club: The Persistence of Duke Ellington’s Jungle Style.” Jazz Perspectives 6.1–2 (2012): 123–149.

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    Offers a revisionist perspective on Ellington’s self-exoticism. Argues that elements of Ellington’s late 1920s “jungle style” most commonly discussed as a form of self-exoticism actually predate and postdate his years at the Cotton Club. Notes that these stylistic features appear in Ellington’s works late in his career in the 1960s and 1970s in pieces for black African audiences.

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  • Watkins, Glenn. Pyramids at the Louvre: Music, Culture, and Collage from Stravinsky to the Postmodernists. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 1994.

    DOI: 10.4159/harvard.9780674437418Save Citation »Export Citation »

    A stimulating work of cultural history that includes substantial discussion of Orientalism and primitivism in early-20th-century European music. Includes chapters on the “jungle” image of Duke Ellington’s band at the Cotton Club in the 1920s and the self-exoticist image of Josephine Baker in Paris in the 1920s.

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Exoticism Elsewhere

Identifying the borders of “elsewhere” is no simple matter. Béhague 2006 is a brief essay on exoticism in works by Latin American composers during the modernist period. Saavedra 2012 focuses on Orientalist works by an early-20th-century Mexican composer. Stokes 2000 and O’Connell 2005 focus on Turkish popular arabesk music, noting connections to Western alla turca and the role of musical exoticism in Turkish conceptions of modernity. A clear case of intra-Asian exoticism—of Japan representing China as exotic through music—is presented in Pope 2003. Similarly, Booth 2007 brings the critical lens of Orientalism to the study of cinema in India, noting parallels between Anglo-American exotic representation and the representation of other Asians in these films. Mitchell 2004 considers exoticism and self-exoticism within an East Asian context, exemplified by the albums of Dick Lee, and the collection Popular Music: Intercultural Interpretations (Mitsui 1998) offers multiple brief essays illustrating the more recent globalization of musical exoticism with wide-ranging examples. Sheppard 2014 investigates intra-Asian Orientalism in Chinese-language popular music at the turn of the 21st century. Waseda 2004 presents a case study in which locating exoticism and determining representational vectors proves complex, given that these Japanese songs were consumed by both Japanese and US military audiences and were often performed by Japanese Americans.

  • Béhague, Gerard. “Indianism in Latin American Art-Music Composition of the 1920s to 1940s: Case Studies from Mexico, Peru, and Brazil.” Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamericana 27.1 (2006): 28–37.

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    Brief article that opens up the topic of exoticism within works by major Latin American composers. In an attempt to distinguish their music from European models, these composers appropriated native folk sources and romanticized native culture. Could be compared with Browner 1997 and Pisani 2005 (both cited under United States).

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  • Booth, Gregory D. “Musicking the Other: Orientalism in the Hindi Cinema.” In Music and Orientalism in the British Empire, 1780s–1940s. Edited by Martin Clayton and Bennett Zon, 315–337. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

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    Case study that draws attention to examples of Orientalist representation outside the West. Gives examples of Indian popular film representing other Asian peoples as exotic through music. Notes borrowing of British and American techniques and historical layering of exotic representation. As the West exoticized India, Indian films now exoticize others.

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  • Mitchell, Tony. “Self-Orientalism, Reverse Orientalism and Pan-Asian Pop Cultural Flows in Dick Lee’s Transit Lounge.” In Rogue Flows: Trans-Asian Cultural Traffic. Edited by Koichi Iwabuchi, Stephen Muecke, and Mandy Thomas, 95–118. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2004.

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    Dick Lee offers an intriguing example of exoticism playing out beyond the hearing of Western audiences. Mitchell discusses Lee’s trajectory from self-Orientalism to a parody of Orientalism. Stimulating study of intra-Asian exoticism and the forces of globalization on Asian popular music.

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  • Mitsui, Tôru, ed. Popular Music: Intercultural Interpretations. Kanazawa, Japan: Graduate Program in Music, Kanazawa University, 1998.

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    Symposium proceedings containing numerous short essays that consider exoticism from novel perspectives with examples ranging from sites throughout the world. The impact of globalization is interwoven in several of these essays. Taken together, the essays offer numerous examples of “exoticism elsewhere” and of postcolonial approaches to this subject.

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  • O’Connell, John Morgan. “In the Time of Alaturka: Identifying Difference in Musical Discourse.” Ethnomusicology 49.2 (2005): 177–205.

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    Traces adoption of the Western alla turca Orientalist concept within Turkey in 19th century. An example of exoticism internalized. Begins with late-18th-century Western alla turca, then focuses on mid-19th-century Ottoman music and Westernization, Turkish art music of the 1920s, and Turkish popular arabesk of the 1990s. Compare Stokes 2000.

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  • Pope, Edgar Wright. “Songs of the Empire: Continental Asia in Japanese Wartime Popular Music.” PhD diss., University of Washington, 2003.

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    A study of intra-Asian exoticism. Focuses on examples of Japanese popular songs from the 1930s and 1940s that represented the Chinese, often in Orientalist fashion. Considers propagandistic function of this music. The songs represent a hybrid of Western and Japanese genres.

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  • Saavedra, Leonora. “Spanish Moors and Turkish Captives in fin de siècle Mexico: Exoticism as Strategy.” Journal of Musicological Research 31.4 (2012): 231–261.

    DOI: 10.1080/01411896.2012.721334Save Citation »Export Citation »

    Focuses on early-20th-century Orientalist works by Mexican composer Ernesto Elorduy. Considers connections between exoticism and nationalism and the usefulness of Orientalism for an artist in a formerly colonial nation. Prompts consideration of how exotic musical representation by a Mexican differs from examples by other North Americans and Europeans.

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  • Sheppard, W. Anthony. “Global Exoticism and Modernity.” In The Cambridge History of World Music. Edited by Philip V. Bohlman, 606–633. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

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    Asserts that exotic representation in music is a global phenomenon that proves particularly useful for staking claims of modernity. Investigates intra-Asian Orientalism in Chinese-language popular music at the turn of the 21st century. Focuses on Taiwanese-based musicians and their use of Chinese opera and ethnic minority musics in rock music videos. Offers general perspectives on musical globalization.

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  • Stokes, Martin. “East, West, and Arabesk.” In Western Music and Its Others: Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music. Edited by Georgina Born and David Hesmondhalgh, 213–233. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

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    Focuses on the reception and position of the popular musical style arabesk within Turkish society. Notes how the style has been both critiqued and co-opted as exotic in narratives of modernity and identifies aspects of reverse essentialism.

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  • Waseda, Minako. “Looking Both Ways: GI Songs and Musical Exoticism in Post–World War II Japan.” Yearbook for Traditional Music 36 (2004): 144–164.

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    Important in its investigation of musical exoticism from a strikingly different vantage point. Focuses on songs composed by Japanese songwriters during the occupation period. These songs involved aspects of self-exoticism and included performance by Japanese Americans. Considers perspectives of both the Japanese public and American soldiers as intended audiences.

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