[Dixielandjazz] "Oriental Jazz"

Don Kirkman donkirk at covad.net
Tue Mar 15 11:58:04 PST 2005

On Tue, 15 Mar 2005 11:11:06 -0500, Ron L'Herault wrote:

>There were also Oriental themed silent movies, I recall a Chaplin film,
>"Broken Blossom" maybe?   I'm sure there were others.   If I'm not mistaken
>there were lots of questions about oriental immigration in the early 1900s.

And Anna May Wong and Sessue Hayakawa (the very same who was
rediscovered a few years back) were big stars in the silents; Hayakawa
owned his own business for a while, and played leads with mixed casts,
much as Valentino did.

Both Mr. Moto and Charley Chan movies drew big audiences almost up to
the start of WW II.

It was a slightly schizophrenic time, with strong agitation against
South and East Asians, but romantic "Oriental" themes in movies and
music selling strongly.  ("Oriental" traditionally referred to Egypt and
the Near East, as has been noted elsewhere in this thread, though
recently some of East Asian background have tried to invoke it for PC

In the US there were more "answers" than questions about immigration in
those days:  1882, the act ending early Chinese immigration (after the
railroads were built and the mines exhausted); 1906, the "Gentlemen's
Agreement" putting restrictions on Japanese women joining the men who
were already in the US; 1913, Alien Land Laws forbidding immigrants
ineligible for citizenship (read:  Asians) to own land; 1924, the
revised immigration law basically ending immigration from Asia (finally
changed in 1952). 

And the music played on.

>-----Original Message-----
>From: dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com
>[mailto:dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com]On Behalf Of Steve
>Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2005 10:05 AM
>Subject: [Dixielandjazz] "Oriental Jazz"

>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.
donkirk at covad.net

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