What does it mean to be Californian? To find out, Mina Yang delves into multicultural nature of musics in the state that has launched musical and cultural trends for decades.
In the early twentieth century, an orientalist fascination with Asian music and culture dominated the popular imagination of white Californians and influenced their interactions with the Asian Other. Several decades later, tensions between the Los Angeles Police Department and the African American community made the thriving jazz and blues nightclub scene of 1940s Central Avenue a target for the LAPD’s anti-vice crusade. The musical scores for Hollywood’s noir films confirmed reactionary notions of the threat to white female sexuality in the face of black culture and urban corruption while Mexican Americans faced a conflicted assimilation into the white American mainstream. Finally, Korean Americans in the twenty-first century turned to hip-hop to express their cultural and national identities.
A compelling journey into the origins of musical identity, California Polyphony explores the intersection of musicology, cultural history, and politics to define Californian.