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California Polyphony

Ethnic Voices, Musical Crossroads

Mina Yang

Publication Year: 2008

What does it mean to be "Californian"? Mina Yang suggests an answer that lies at the intersection of musicology, cultural history, and politics. Consisting of a series of musical case studies of major ethnic groups in California, this book approaches the notion of Californian identity from diverse perspectives, each nuanced by class, gender, and sexuality. This most populous and most affluent state in the Union has been setting musical and cultural trends for decades, and Yang's study thoughtfully illuminates the multiculutral nature of its musics.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: Music in American Life

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Hal Leonard Corporation for permission to reprint lyrics from “Tangerine” from the Paramount Picture The Fleet’s In. Words by Johnny Mercer; Music by Victor Schertzinger. Copyright © 1942 (Renewed 1969) by Famous Music LLC. International Copyright Secured. All Rights Reserved. ...

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pp. 1-10

The importance of California on the international economic and political stage is undeniable. In the last few years, California and France have vied for and alternatively occupied fifth place in the world economic order. The wealthiest and most populous state in the Union, California enjoys political leverage that surpasses that of many first world nations. ...

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1. The Early History of California Cultural and Musical Life

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pp. 11-32

California’s population exploded during each of its boom periods, as immigrants from all over the world converged there in pursuit of the California dream, based half on truth and half on myth, of a land abundant in wealth and possibilities. The histories of the various groups who migrated to California from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century ...

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2. The Transpacific Gaze: Orientalism, Queerness, and Californian Experimentalism

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pp. 33-59

While the Anglo elite exerted considerable energy and allocated valuable resources to recreate European-styled bourgeois concert culture in the new state, other Californians were finding inspiration in the bounty of nonwestern musics transplanted into the American soil. ...

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3. A Thin Blue Line down Central Avenue: The LAPD and the Demise of a Musical Hub

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pp. 60-79

While the Anglo elite turned toward Europe and the avant-garde toward Asia, California’s nonwhite peoples produced music that demonstrated the vitality of their communities and the rich rewards of intercultural collaboration. Such cultural exuberance was not always welcomed by the power structure, however, and music became another locus ...

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4. Noir Entanglements: Black Music, White Women, and the Dark City

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pp. 80-97

Because of the location of the film industry in Los Angeles, the battle between black music and the Anglo establishment did not remain a mere local conflict but rather was transferred onto celluloid and broadcast around the world. Throughout its checkered history, Hollywood has held up a mirror, as distorting and one-sided as it may be, ...

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5. From the Mission Myth to Chicano Nationalism: The Evolution of Mestizo Identities and Music

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pp. 98-117

From the beginning of the United States’ occupation of California, race relations in this western outpost were much too complex to be cast as simply another iteration of the black/white conflict. Indigenous peoples and Spanish colonialists preceded the American entry into the region, and their descendants, ...

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6. After Sa-i-ku: Korean American Hip-Hop since the Rodney King Uprising

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pp. 118-136

The fragmentation of Los Angeles society into myriad splinters was made visible to the rest of the world in April 1992, as incessantly looped newsreels put on ignominious display the rioting, burning, and pillaging of South Central and Koreatown. Angelenos commemorated the tenth anniversary of the 1992 riots with multicultural events ...

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pp. 137-140

Just a few years after the September 11 attacks and about a dozen years after the Rodney King uprising, Hollywood produced two films set in Los Angeles that grapple with the city’s increasingly volatile race relations. In Crash (dir. Paul Haggis, 2004), Angelenos of various racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds collide calamitously, ...


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pp. 141-164

Works Cited

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pp. 165-178


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pp. 179-184

E-ISBN-13: 9780252092978
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252032431

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Music in American Life