Paper Session
Nov 11, 2021 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM(America/Chicago)
20211111T1100 20211111T1150 America/Chicago Asian Transnationalism AMS 2021
From Yellow Peril to Yellow Pearl: Asian American Musical Activism during the Vietnam War
Individual Paper 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 17:50:00 UTC

In 1970, musicians of Asian descent gathered from various New York music scenes--orientalist Broadway, Manhattan's jazz clubs, Woodstock's rock 'n' roll festivals--to mobilize against the rising anti-Asian sentiment, sharpened in the wake of the Vietnam War. The most prominent of these musicians formed a folk music group called Yellow Pearl, named such to subvert the racist Yellow Peril ideology pervading the United States. Yellow Pearl wrote and performed songs from the first-person perspective of Vietnamese victims-both civilians and soldiers-as part of the Asian American Movement (AAM), an anti-racist and anti-imperialist social justice movement that peaked in the late 1960s and 70s. Yellow Pearl's goal was to demonstrate to their AAM audiences, primarily from Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinx American communities, that the Vietnamese suffering was yet another iteration of anti-Asian violence in the history of the United States. Yellow Pearl's presence at political rallies and music clubs also attracted the attention of white musicians in broader antiwar activist circles, such as John Lennon, who brought Yellow Pearl on as his guests on national television in 1972, and folk revivalists Barbara Dane and Irwin Silber, who recorded Yellow Pearl's first album through Paredon Records in 1973.

My paper outlines how participants of the AAM and the broader antiwar movement interpreted and distributed Yellow Pearl's music. I first argue that musical activism was the generative force behind a new Asian American consciousness, which led to institutional and legal recognition of "Asian American" as a coherent racial category in the United States. Next, I show that white antiwar musicians amplified Asian American sounds as part of their agenda to perform solidarity with Vietnamese people and criticize U.S. imperialism. I propose that Asian Americans came to be heard paradoxically as "forever foreigners" and "honorary whites" (Tuan 1998) through transnational, interracial, and panethnic musical networks. By centering Asian American musicians in U.S. history, my project advances our understanding of cultural-historical formations of racial categories in the United States.

Grace Kweon
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill
Pentatonicism Reprinted: Piano Pedagogy, Transnational Music Publishing, and the Construction of the Public, 1935-1937
Individual Paper 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 17:50:00 UTC

In 1935, Alexander Tcherepnin (1899-1977), the Russian composer and pianist, published in Shanghai, China a volume titled "Piano Study on Pentatonic Scale." The volume includes scales, arpeggios, fingering practices, and etudes-all based on pentatonic tonalities-suitable for piano beginners of Chinese nationality, the first intended audience. Originally published as a textbook at the National Conservatory of Music (NCM, now the Shanghai Conservatory of Music), the volume was greeted with applause and criticism from local musicians. From late 1935 to 1937, Tcherepnin republished the same repertoire in separate volumes through companies in France and Germany. These volumes would become his Op. 51-53, equally valued and dismissed for its use of Pentatonic materials. The work's transnational print circulation bears traces of heterogenous listenings, and these in turn play a pivotal role in producing a distinct public for the music.Juxtaposing the Chinese and European versions of this set of pedagogical compositions, this paper maps out the importance of transnational music publishing: as a dynamic printing culture, transnational music publications politicized musical practices, compelled competing modes of understanding pentatonicism, and ultimately constructed a public realm characterized by a constant negotiation of musical aesthetics and cultural geo-politics. Cross-examination of the original Chinese publication and its European reprints suggests a set of relations (aural, pianistic, cultural, and pedagogical) that troubles uncritical colonialist or Orientalist narratives. Paradoxically, the reprints of Tcherepnin's pedagogical works challenged what was assumed of his identity as teacher, mentor, or figure of authority. Instead, an attitude of humility emerges. First, the repertoire itself articulated Tcherepnin's stance as a learner and apprentice of Chinese musical culture. Second, he repeatedly acknowledged the mentorship by his senior colleague in Shanghai, Dr. Hsiao Yiu-Mei (NCM President in the 1930s), and by his former teacher, Isidor Philipp (piano department chair, Paris Conservatoire); Hsiao and Philipp substantially endorsed this transnational publishing project. Out of this set of seemingly unsophisticated pentatonic compositions emerged an intricate transnational network of musicians who proactively negotiated the significance of pentatonicism with various political contexts such as Chinese nationalism, anti-colonialism, and even Nazism. 

Xintong Liu
University Of Pennsylvania
The Ballad of 'Grandmaster PH': Contesting Narratives and Lost Archives in Philippine Hip-Hop
Individual Paper 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 17:50:00 UTC

The Philippines is regarded as housing the first hip-hop music scene in Asia. Historical records point to Dyords Javier's 1979 single 'Na Onseng Delight' (Scammer's Delight) as the country's earliest hip-hop recording, a parody of 'Rapper's Delight' by the American trio Sugarhill Gang. Complicating this historical fragment is Winston 'Grandmaster PH' Bustamante - and a murmured, yet enduring, assertion. In 1978, as a 46-year-old guitar teacher in the mountain province of Baguio, Grandmaster PH composed and recorded raps that covertly critiqued the military dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos. With his original tape recordings destroyed in a fire, Bustamante's claim persists largely through testimonials from peers and students. His name does not appear in chronicles of Philippine music, although a few producers and artists are aware of his founding role, as I discovered through archival and ethnographic encounters. This paper chronicles the myth-making and largely uncredited cultural legacy of Bustamante's musical alter ego. Of particular focus are the theoretical, analytical, and practical challenges of excavating the birth of a music scene initially carried out underground, for fear of being policed by state censorship. In tracing the roots of a movement, who is deemed an amateur and a professional, and who is worthy of documentation? In the absence of material recordings, what should a complete (or at least wide-ranging) history of a hip-hop scene look like? The analysis concludes with a critique on the notion of 'official' archives: national, historical, and musical. Archives are sites of discovery and amplification, but also of musical marginalization, akin to how Bustamante and similar artists have been deemed 'historically undesirable' by state standards. Bustamante's case reveals limitations of the textual and curated archive, as mythical Grandmaster PH continues to live on through an unofficial, historical sensibility residing in individual memories, intertwined networks, and a scattering of verses sung and sampled. His prospective place in Philippine hip-hop gestures to a nuanced probe on the aesthetic pluralism of localized Western-influenced hip-hop genres, opposing clear-cut depictions of postcolonial forms as simply and happily hybrid.

James Gabrillo
University Of Texas At Austin
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Texas at Austin
University of Pennsylvania
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