Tropical Renditions

Making Musical Scenes in Filipino America

Tropical Renditions

Refiguring American Music

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Book Pages: 256 Illustrations: 20 illustrations Published: April 2016

American Studies, Asian American Studies, Music > Ethnomusicology

In Tropical Renditions Christine Bacareza Balance examines how the performance and reception of post-World War II Filipino and Filipino American popular music provide crucial tools for composing Filipino identities, publics, and politics. To understand this dynamic, Balance advocates for a "disobedient listening" that reveals how Filipino musicians challenge dominant racialized U.S. imperialist tropes of Filipinos as primitive, childlike, derivative, and mimetic. Balance disobediently listens to how the Bay Area turntablist DJ group the Invisibl Skratch Piklz bear the burden of racialized performers in the United States and defy conventions on musical ownership; to karaoke as affective labor, aesthetic expression, and pedagogical instrument; to how writer and performer Jessica Hagedorn's collaborative and improvisational authorial voice signals the importance of migration and place; and how Pinoy indie rock scenes challenge the relationship between race and musical genre by tracing the alternative routes that popular music takes. In each instance Filipino musicians, writers, visual artists, and filmmakers work within and against the legacies of the U.S./Philippine imperial encounter, and in so doing, move beyond preoccupations with authenticity and offer new ways to reimagine tropical places.


"Balance offers a sharp and compelling analysis of musical scenes. She fleshes out the theoretical, methodological and political potential and possibilities of performance and spotlights how Filipinos in the diaspora engage in performances that 'produce new affiliations, politics, and ways of thinking.'"  — Antonio T. Tiongson, Jr., Sojourn

"Balance’s book is a major contribution to a flowering of contemporary scholarship on the Filipino diaspora and musical performance.  . . . From DJing and karaoke to performance art and indie Pinoise rock, Balance’s book draws out the rich implications of such musical scenes, and in doing so, shows how Filipino America has been made, and made uniquely meaningful, through music." — Victor Bascara, Pacific Affairs

"With her careful survey of ethnographic texts and implicit use of ethnographic research techniques, Balance sets a new standard for accounts of popular music culture in performance studies." — Neal Matherne, Ethnomusicology

"In her carefully structured book, Balance introduces a fresh example of historical writing . . . shar[ing] her innovative disobedient listening experiences that give voice to the marginalized underground Filipino performers in both the Philippines and the United States." — Jui-Ching Wang, Pacific Historical Review

"Tropical Renditions makes a worthwhile contribution to the ongoing negotiations over what can be considered constitutive of cultural, ethnic and/or national labels." — Jared Mackley-Crump, Perfect Beat

"Tropical Renditions offers a script from which to begin rehearsing a multiscalar phonography of place, race, and music that is . . . relentlessly and productively disobedient." — Anjeline de Dios, Southeast Asian Studies

"A gift to the fields of Asian studies, sound studies, and cultural studies, speaking between and across each in order to posit a theory of sound that is attuned to the affective and sociopolitical contours of the Filipinx diasporic experience. . . . Seminal in its theorizing of the social conditions that dictate how the Filipinx performing body is consumed." — Casey Mecija, Journal of the Society for American Music

"In this stunningly refreshing take on the musicological and performative dimensions of Filipino American historical and cultural experiences, Christine Bacareza Balance makes intricate and superb sonic connections between seemingly separate realms such as colonialism, migration, youth culture, leisure, and labor. Standing alone in its incisive cultural critique and superb interpretive readings of a culture and a people spanning thousands of miles, Tropical Renditions makes a pioneering contribution to Asian American studies and performance studies." — Martin F. Manalansan IV, author of Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora

"Tropical Renditions is an ambitious and exhilarating study that beckons us to listen carefully to the underground sound of Filipino and Filipino American 'translocal' cultures. Christine Bacareza Balance takes her readers to a range of sonic 'scenes' in the Filipino diaspora—from karaoke house parties to Pinoy indie rock shows to the experimental performance spaces of Jessica Hagedorn and the West Coast Gangster Choir, in turn showcasing an insurgent musicality that speaks back to and, in many ways, sings through and against the long roll of imperial violence. Like a radical postcolonial mixtape, Balance’s book captures the urgency of Filipino identity in sonic motion." — Daphne A. Brooks, author of Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850–1910


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Christine Bacareza Balance is Associate Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix

Flip the Beat: An Introduction  1

1. Sonic Fictions  31

2. The Serious Work of Karaoke  56

3. Jessica Hagedorn's Gangster Routes  87

4. Pinoise Rock  123

Epilogue: Rakenrol Itineraries  155

Notes  187

Bibliography  207

Index  219
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing

Winner of the inaugural Best First Book Award from the Filipino Section of the Association for Asian American Studies

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6001-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5958-6
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