Musicians of the Philippine Constabulary Band, a musical organization formed under US colonial rule and sent to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, played European classical pieces and patriotic marches to the delight of American audiences who heard their performance as validation of American intervention. Despite the way that the band was represented as highlighting the success of benevolent assimilation by emphasizing Filipinos’ so-called natural musicality and willingness to embrace American culture, the musicians maintained their Filipino identity and resisted their role as “instruments of empire” by continuing indigenous practices in their own banda tradition. Talusan uncovers several instances in which the band musicians compelled American audiences, who listened with an “imperial ear,” to hear their ingenuity and individuality.
Mary Talusan Lacanlale is an assistant professor of Asian-Pacific Studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills. She has a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from UCLA and specializes on Filipino and Filipino American music and culture. She is co-editor of Our Culture Resounds, Our Future Reveals: A Legacy of Filipino American Performing Arts in California (2020). Her book Instruments of Empire: Filipino Musicians, Black Soldiers, and Military Band Music during U.S. Colonization of the Philippines will be published by University Press of Mississippi in Fall 2021. She performs music and dance of the southern Philippines with the Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble.
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