• Nazi (Yes, Nazi) Rules for Jazz

    The online version of Atlantic Monthly magazine highlights an interview with Josef Skvorecky, a philosopher and Czechoslovakian writer. In the article, an excerpt from his book outlines the Nazi Party's guidelines for jazz performance. It's a bit funny at first glance, but the terrifying implications are far-reaching.

    The entire article may be found here:


    Below are a few points:

    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 tolerated;
    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.
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Bloo Dog's Avatar
      Bloo Dog -
      I put the excerpt in the forum to make others think about how conventions come to be. In art, music, and literature, they come about slowly. They are the result of evolution, not the result of legislation, dictum, or dogma.

      I don't know if anyone actually played jazz under those artistic strictures in Germany during that particularly dark period in western history, but I imagine that it might be a bit difficult to play within the lines.

      The rules call into question whether the intention was to "improve" the musical form, make it adhere to a political agenda, or to put an ugly face on an otherwise beautiful musical form.

      Jazz is freedom.

      Freedom is jazz.
    1. Grahamburglar's Avatar
      Grahamburglar -
      It's interesting (and totally outside my life experience) to imagine living under a government so hell-bent on power that it would forcefully reach into every facet of my life and exert its control. I mean, imagine the police charging into your living room and arresting you because they heard you practicing a syncopated blues line on your saxophone in a minor key as opposed to a clean, major keyed melody on a cello. It's just crazy.
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