Orientalism, which means Eastern research in the simplest terms, has been opened to debate in the post-colonial world due to the biased and Western-centric view of the East. Edward Said's claims and approach in his book Orientalism exits at the center of these discussions. Said tries to show that orientalism is functioning in the context of general culture, literature and ideology as well as social and political attitudes rather than limiting it to professional expertise. Orientalism discussions, which problematize the relationship between knowledge and power on the one hand, and on the other, how East and West were built and positioned at the level of imagination, found a place also in musicological researches. In these studies, the devices (pentatonic scales, parallel forths and fifths, high pitches, use of instruments like gong, exaggerated ornamentation, etc.) that have been used by Western composers to construct or represent the East in a musical manner were also examined. Until the mid-20th century, the musical devices and techniques above mentioned referred to the Western imagination and stereotypes related to the East, rather than the musical qualities and practices of the eastern communities depicted. Western composers preferred to use musical clichés as they aimed at a stereotypical representation of the cultural other rather than reflecting the musical practices of non-western communities. Since the audience is not familiar with authentic non-Western musical qualities, the effect that composers target would not occur. However, as a result, such composing processes have reproduced the orientalist way of thinking. In this study, Das Lied von der Erde (1907) by Gustav Mahler will be discussed as example and the musical devices used by the composer to construct the Chinese image will be examined in relation to the historical/social context and discussions of orientalism.
Orientalism Western Classical Music Gustav Mahler Das Lied Von Der Erde Musical Devices