Or is it the beginning of a new american musical

Info iconThis preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: a common profile in that a small portion of the community, referred to as “The First Wave,” has been in the United States for generations. For example, some Chinese American families have now been in America for six generations. But the greater portion of Asian immigrants, the “Second Wave,” has arrived in the last few decades. This means that while some Asian Americans have culturally assimilated to the mainstream of American life, for the most part, many Asians in America are first generation. Their musical tastes and habits are as diverse as the Asian American population; some prefer the classical or art music of their own country or of European classical music, others the international styled pop music in their own language, and yet others the mainstream popular music of the United States. An attempt to include every Asian group represented in the United States is beyond the practical scope of this chapter. Acknowledging the number and diversity of Asian American communities and with apologies to those groups not studied, for the purposes of this chapter we will focus on the music of Chinese Americans. This is because Chinese Americans are the largest and oldest Asian American group. Chinese Americans In the 2010 census, there were 1.6 million Chinese Americans, making them the largest Asian American group in the United States, with 36.2% living in California. But even this relatively concise category of “Chinese Americans” obscures considerable diversity. China’s population is approximately 93% “Han” Chinese. The 7% non- Han ethnic minority consists of more than 70 million people further subdivided into 56 ethnic minorities distinguished by history, language, religion, and culture. The Chinese language consists of more than a dozen major spoken dialects, although all writing is done using the same characters that have been in use for more than 3000 years. Most Chinese immigrants prior to World War II spoke the various dialects of Cantonese. Cantonese speaking communities are thus common in the United States, but are actually a minority in China. In 1955, the Chinese Communist government established Putonghua (“common speech”)––the dialect of the northern province known to Westerners as “Mandarin”––as the official spoken language, and now most Chinese immigrants speak this language. In the late 1960’s to the early 1970’s, a student movement with the participation of established artists and writers began to explore the idea of what the title Asian American could mean. Asians, like Latinos, Africans, and others in the United States, were challenging old stereotypes about themselves and seeking new roles and images. Books, plays, graphics, and music were used to express this search. Exponents of this new self- image proposed that the two choices then available to people of Asian descent living in America were inadequate. The first was a strict adherence to traditional Asian culture and acceptance of the role of “perpetual foreigner.” The second was complete Crossroads: Music of American Cultures (Barkley) Kendall Hunt Publishers, 2013 7 assimilation into mainstream American life at the cost of cultural surrender. The exponents of the new image conceived of a third, the Asian American. This American citizen of Asian heritage would be able to comfortably blend Asian and American influences in a single life style to the benefit of both cultures. The Development of an “Asian American” Music Genre With the goal of blending Asian and American influences, several musicians consciously attempted to create something that they felt could accurately and legitimately be labeled Asian American Music. The first record album of the music that reflects this belief was A Grain of Sand, produced in New York...
View Full Document

This document was uploaded on 02/16/2014.

Ask a homework question - tutors are online