Mary TalusanDec 20, 2021
Instruments of Empire
Filipino Musicians, Black Soldiers, and Military Band Music During US Colonization of the Philippines
University Press of Mississippi 2021
Instruments of Empire: Filipino Musicians, Black Soldiers, and Military Band Music during US Colonization of the Philippines published in 2021 by the University Press of Mississippi by Mary Talusan focuses on the Philippine Constabulary band, a military band organized in 1902 that served the colonial government in the Philippines until World War II. Founded and led for most of its history by Walter Loving, a Black soldier in the American military, the band visited the United States four times between 1904 and 1939 and it is these visits that Talusan examines in Instruments of Empire. Listening with what Talusan calls the imperial ear, American commentators understood the group’s command of the standard band repertory of the period not as a result of the Filipino musician’s training and skill, but as evidence of their so-called natural musical ability which had been tamed by the allegedly civilizing influence of American colonial rule. Tracing the band’s reception over time, Talusan analyzes the cultural, political, and social causes and byproducts of American imperial ambitions.
Kristen M. Turner is a lecturer in the music and honors departments at North Carolina State University. Her research centers on race and class in American popular entertainment at the turn of the twentieth century.