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Regarding Nazi Regulations on Swing Music

March 15, 2012

Dear Readers: It was suspected in the comments that the regulations mentioned in this post were fabricated. It seems that, after researching the German Swing Youth, it is highly possible. After you finish reading this article (or instead of,) please read this one: Swingjugend: The Real Swing Kids

A reader sent me an interesting article, and I thought the following section, about Nazi regulations on dance bands regarding swing music, particularly interesting:

“…Maybe the single most remarkable example of 20th-century totalitarian invective against jazz that [Josef] Skvorecky ever relayed was in the intro to The Bass Saxophone, where he recalls — faithfully, he assures us (“they had engraved themselves deeply on my mind”) — a set of regulations, issued by a Gauleiter — a regional official for the Reich — as binding on all local dance orchestras during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Get this:”

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.

Isn’t it fascinating? Also, for the record, “negroid excesses in rhythm” is a great description of something that would have gotten me onto a dance floor in the 1930s. I doubt using such language would have helped keep the teenagers away.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2012 3:42 pm

    Not sure if I’m preaching to the converted here, but I’ve got lots of German swing music which I regularly spin at our dance nights. Check out our German Swing radio show that we recorded a while back at our website here: http://hotginger.org/?p=230 (Apologies for the blog pimp, we’ll put a link to this on our site!)

    You might be pleasantly surprised by some of it if you haven’t heard it before.

    One of my, and my German wife’s, favourites is “Haben Sie Schon Mal Im Dunkeln Geküßt?” which means “Have You Ever Been Kissed In The Dark?” (I think!).

    Particularly nice version for Bal here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7UfEV7m5VY

  2. March 15, 2012 3:47 pm

    Thank you for posting this! I found the following disk set in a book store and purchased it a year or so ago. A facinating, if not stark and eerie listen.

    http://www.dustedmagazine.com/reviews/1148

    I haven’t yet had the gumption to try to dance to it. But it has a very specific place in my music collection.

  3. Calico permalink
    March 15, 2012 6:31 pm

    I just saw this list of rules recently posted somewhere else, and in the comment section was a link to snopes http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=49218.
    Whether or not it’s genuine it’s still a charming summary of everything I love about jazz. “Negroid excesses in rhythm” is my business!

    • Yossef permalink
      March 16, 2012 3:59 pm

      I’m all about the “Jewish-Freemasonic yowl”, myself.

    • Bobby permalink*
      March 17, 2012 3:03 pm

      Thanks for posting and looking out for journalistic integrity. This guy is a jazz musician & scholar who reportedly wrote what he remembered from his youth in Europe in the 30s and 40s. It’d be disappointing if he made it up.

  4. May 3, 2012 7:24 pm

    Jewish Freemasonic Yowl is the name of my Beastie Boys cover band.

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