Brokering Sonic Modernities: migrant Manila musicians in the Asia Pacific, 1881-1948

meLê yamomo


In the second half of the 19th and in the beginning of the 20th century, the Asia Pacific region was inevitably entangled with early modern globalisation. In this article the author examines the spread of town bands and popular music in this period, and the ways in which both the bands and their music were intertwined with the modernist aspirations of the urban capitals, from Manila and into the Asia Pacific region. The role of the Manila musicians as crucial cultural mediators in this sonic modernisation project is closely examined. Looking into biographies, historical newspapers, and surviving archival documents, the author surveys some general patterns and specific narratives in the various replications of modernities, through the movement of sounds and ideas instigated by the migrant Manila musicians. In particular, the case of the Sta. Cecilia Band in Singapore between 1892 and 1910 is analysed. meLê yamomo is an Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and previously worked as researcher at the DFG Project-Global Theatre Histories in Munich. He completed his PhD in Theatre Studies and Musicology at the University of Munich.

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