[Dixielandjazz] "Oriental Jazz"

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Mar 15 07:05:02 PST 2005

List mates:

Shortly after World War One ended, the Tin Pan Alley composers started
writing pseudo oriental tunes. There was a groundswell of audience interest
in tunes about the "inscrutable" East.

(Mysterious maybe, but not inscrutable) :-) VBG

Most of these tunes were written not by Orientals, but by guys named

It was a popular song subject phase for a while and everybody and his
brother wrote Oriental Songs to make money at it. You were virtually
guaranteed a HIT SONG if it had an oriental theme.

If you are a silent movie buff, you know that there were a lot of "Oriental
Tunes" played as accompaniment by the pianist. This may also have helped the
market for them. The below from a silent movie history book.

"There is also no shortage of Asian or "Oriental" tunes which were steeped
in stereotype, and may actually have helped establish the precedent of
traditional musical stereotypes for many decades that followed. Similar but
equal treatment was offered for Middle-Eastern nationalities as well in the
form of Arabian and "Hindoo" melodies."

Oriental Jazz was not a genre. It was the jazzing up of Oriental theme
popular tunes written first for silent movie background and then by Tin Pan
Alley composers for the mass market.

Charlie Chan

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list