[JPL] Nazi rules for jazz performers

McWilliams, Robert C radiobob at ku.edu
Mon Mar 12 13:09:44 EDT 2012

As it happens, just last night I was reading the latest in the series of Bernie Gunther mysteries by Phillip Kerr; Gunther was a police detective in Berlin who is forced out of his job when the Nazis took over in 1933 and becomes a hotel detective and later a private detective. And the last chapter I read last night, set in 1934, had him at a night club in Berlin that had formerly been one of the most popular; he notes the orchestra struggling to play something resembling jazz while making sure not to sound "too Negro."

Bob McWilliams
Kansas Public Radio
From: jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com [jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com] on behalf of Dr. Jazz [drjazz at drjazz.com]
Sent: Sunday, March 11, 2012 10:11 PM
To: jazzproglist at jazzweek.com
Subject: [JPL] Nazi rules for jazz performers


Nazi rules for jazz performers

By Cory Doctorow at 10:54 pm Saturday, Mar 10

Famed Czech radical Josef Skvorecky recently died at 87 in his adopted
land of Canada. In the Atlantic, JJ Gould remembers Skvorecky through
his memoirs, including a detailed list of the rules for jazz performers
during the Nazi occupation. The Reich's Gauleiter for the Nazi
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia issued a 10-point regulation that
Gould calls "the single most remarkable example of 20th-century
totalitarian invective against jazz."

     1 Pieces in foxtrot rhythm (so-called swing) are not to exceed 20%
of the repertoires of light orchestras and dance bands;
     2 in this so-called jazz type repertoire, preference is to be given
to compositions in a major key and to lyrics expressing joy in life
rather than Jewishly gloomy lyrics;
     3 As to tempo, preference is also to be given to brisk compositions
over slow ones so-called blues); however, the pace must not exceed a
certain degree of allegro, commensurate with the Aryan sense of
discipline and moderation. On no account will Negroid excesses in tempo
(so-called hot jazz) or in solo performances (so-called breaks) be
     4 so-called jazz compositions may contain at most 10% syncopation;
the remainder must consist of a natural legato movement devoid of the
hysterical rhythmic reverses characteristic of the barbarian races and
conductive to dark instincts alien to the German people (so-called riffs);
     5 strictly prohibited is the use of instruments alien to the German
spirit (so-called cowbells, flexatone, brushes, etc.) as well as all
mutes which turn the noble sound of wind and brass instruments into a
Jewish-Freemasonic yowl (so-called wa-wa, hat, etc.);

     6 also prohibited are so-called drum breaks longer than half a bar
in four-quarter beat (except in stylized military marches);
     7 the double bass must be played solely with the bow in so-called
jazz compositions;
     8 plucking of the strings is prohibited, since it is damaging to
the instrument and detrimental to Aryan musicality; if a so-called
pizzicato effect is absolutely desirable for the character of the
composition, strict care must be taken lest the string be allowed to
patter on the sordine, which is henceforth forbidden;
     9 musicians are likewise forbidden to make vocal improvisations
(so-called scat);
     10 all light orchestras and dance bands are advised to restrict the
use of saxophones of all keys and to substitute for them the
violin-cello, the viola or possibly a suitable folk instrument.

Josef Skvorecky on the Nazis' Control-Freak Hatred of Jazz (via JWZ)

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