The Nazis’ 10 Control-Freak Rules for Jazz Performers: A Strange List from World War II

Bass SaxophoneLike the rock and roll rev­o­lu­tion of the 1950s, which shocked staid white audi­ences with trans­la­tions of black rhythm and blues, the pop­u­lar­i­ty of jazz caused all kinds of racial pan­ic and social anx­i­ety in the ear­ly part of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. Long before the rise of Euro­pean fas­cism, many Amer­i­can groups expressed extreme fear and agi­ta­tion over the rise of minor­i­ty cul­tur­al forms. But by World War II, jazz was intrin­si­cal­ly woven into the fab­ric of Amer­i­can major­i­ty cul­ture, albeit often in ver­sions scrubbed of blues under­tones. This was not, of course, the case in Nazi occu­pied Europe, where jazz was sup­pressed; like most forms of mod­ern art, it bore the stig­ma of impu­ri­ty, inno­va­tion, pas­sion… all qual­i­ties total­i­tar­i­ans frown on (even anti-fas­cist the­o­rist Theodor Adorno had a seri­ous beef with jazz).

And while it’s no great sur­prise that Nazis hat­ed jazz—so much so that, as we not­ed yes­ter­day, Stan­ley Kubrick almost made a film about the WWII-era Euro­pean jazz underground—it seems they expressed their dis­ap­proval in a very odd­ly spe­cif­ic way, at least in the rec­ol­lec­tion of Czech writer and dis­si­dent Josef Skvorecky.

On the occa­sion of Skvorecky’s death, J.J. Gould point­ed out in The Atlantic that the writer was him­self one of the char­ac­ters that so inter­est­ed Kubrick. An aspir­ing tenor sax­o­phone play­er liv­ing in Third Reich-occu­pied Czecho­slo­va­kia, Skvorecky had ample oppor­tu­ni­ty to expe­ri­ence the Nazis’ “con­trol-freak hatred of jazz.” In the intro to his short nov­el The Bass Sax­o­phone, he recounts from mem­o­ry a set of ten bizarre reg­u­la­tions issued by a Gauleit­er, a region­al Nazi offi­cial, that bound local dance orches­tras dur­ing the Czech occu­pa­tion.

  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.

As The Atlantic notes, “being a Nazi, this pub­lic ser­vant obvi­ous­ly did­n’t miss an oppor­tu­ni­ty to couch as many of these reg­u­la­tions as he could in racist or anti-Semit­ic terms.” This racial­ized fear and hatred was the source, after all, of the objec­tion. It’s almost impos­si­ble for me to imag­ine what kind of music this set of restric­tions could pos­si­bly pro­duce, but it most cer­tain­ly would not be any­thing peo­ple would want to dance to. And that was prob­a­bly the point.

For more on Josef  Skvorecky’s life as a writer under Nazism and his escape from Czecho­slo­va­kia after the Sovi­et inva­sion, read his illu­mi­nat­ing Paris Review inter­view.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stan­ley Kubrick’s Jazz Pho­tog­ra­phy and The Film He Almost Made About Jazz Under Nazi Rule

Watch Lam­beth Walk—Nazi Style: The Ear­ly Pro­pa­gan­da Mash Up That Enraged Joseph Goebbels

Jazz ‘Hot’: The Rare 1938 Short Film With Jazz Leg­end Djan­go Rein­hardt

Josh Jones is a writer, edi­tor, and musi­cian based in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Fol­low him @jdmagness

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  • Skeptic says:

    So the source for this is an uncor­rob­o­rat­ed claim con­tained in a nov­el, ie a work of fic­tion, 70 years after the fact. The sup­po­si­tion of creduli­ty is offen­sive.

    While Nazis did some burn books it was sev­er­al orders of mag­ni­tude few­er than the num­ber of books burned by occu­py­ing Allied forces. Notably, Nazis did not ban books, as was, and is, com­mon in Allied coun­tries then and now.

    Any­way: who cares about jazz? Ran­dom notes with ran­dom beats which, arranged ran­dom­ly, sounds ran­dom­ly good. Giv­en the glo­ri­ous Ger­man tra­di­tion in music they could hard­ly be blamed for eschew­ing an aton­al, ephemer­al fad that last­ed not much longer than the Third Reich itself.

  • Josh Jones says:

    Fair enough, the source is sus­pect.

    There’s noth­ing here about burn­ing, or ban­ning, books. What’s your point? And what’s your source for these claims?

    Your state­ments about jazz are noth­ing but unwar­rant­ed per­son­al prej­u­dice. Who cares about a “glo­ri­ous Ger­man tra­di­tion in music”?

  • Joe says:


    @Skeptic You ques­tion the sources and facts then spew your own doubt­ful evi­dence as a riposte. You then pro­ceed to defend the Nazis. I don’t think there is any­thing else left to say except you’re wrong. Jazz is still vert pop­u­lar today, can’t say I’m a fan myself but I won’t spout fal­s­hoods and out­right lies.

  • Dr Paul says:

    Skep­tic: ‘Ran­dom notes with ran­dom beats which, arranged ran­dom­ly, sounds ran­dom­ly good.’

    Aren’t you refer­ring here to much twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry ‘clas­si­cal’ music? That’s what a lot of it sounds like to me, only most of it does­n’t sound ‘good’.

  • PJ Darcy says:

    @Skeptic: “glo­ri­ous Ger­man tra­di­tion in music” — yeah 99 red bal­loons was a clas­sic in fair­ness :)

  • Grunion Grady says:

    Regard­ing “ran­dom.” This is inter­est­ing, as it echoes a cer­tain mis­in­formed 5th-grade teacher’s les­son about 20th-cen­tu­ry pop­u­lar music. Do you know how much prac­tice time it takes with not only copied but self-cre­at­ed phras­es played on an instru­ment, in all keys, in order to play a cred­i­ble jazz solo? As for com­po­si­tion, ran­dom also does not apply. Even the seem­ing ran­dom­ness of so-called “free jazz” depends on pre-played groups of notes or, by the less-skilled, fin­ger move­ments.

  • Skeptic says:

    “Do you know how much prac­tice time it takes with blah­blah­blah.…”

    Every time I look at the per­ma-sneer on Diana Kral­l’s face I’m remind­ed, lol. It’s as if she’s dis­gust­ed with human­i­ty for not embrac­ing jazz, or applaud­ing at inap­pro­pri­ate inter­vals, or some­thing.

    Truth mat­ters, that’s why I com­ment­ed. Despite even Yad Vashem deny­ing that Nazis made lamp­shades and soap out of their vic­tims the meme per­se­veres 70 years lat­er.

    You could have cho­sen to write about the Sovi­et Union’s very real per­se­cu­tion of Jazz which, unlike the Naz­i’s alleged jazz per­se­cu­tion, is in fact doc­u­ment­ed:–1950s:_Soviet_jazz

    And by per­se­cut­ed I mean sent to gulags where they would often die, not restrict­ing “drum breaks longer than half a bar in four-quar­ter beat”. Dig that, daddy‑o.

  • mathias says:

    This sounds kind of bogus. Cow­bells were used by Ger­man­ic com­posers as ear­ly as 1915 (Strauss, Eine Alpensin­fonie) and pizzi­ca­to is such a basic part of musi­cian­ship that Mozart’s father wrote about the prop­er tech­nique for pizzi­ca­to in his vio­lin text­book.

  • Grunion Grady says:

    Last word on the sub­ject, as a com­par­i­son, to dis­like a whole genre based on one exam­ple would be a sad mis­take. I dis­like Neil Dia­mond and Neil Young, so I dis­like all pop­u­lar and coun­try rock. Throw it all in the toi­let.

  • Grunion Grady says:

    Wait a minute—Krall is Cana­di­an. Aha!

  • mike t says:

    @ Grunion Grady — maybe you just dis­like Neils?

  • Patrick says:

    Why are so many nazi apol­o­gists spout­ing off their ratio­nal­iza­tions and bull­shit these days? Could it be because of.… Oba­ma?

  • Grunion Grady says:

    Nix to all Neils, all white Bar­rys, and nix to all Cana­di­an singers except Robert Goulet.

  • ayo says:

    I don’t see any­one defend­ing Nazis here.…

    I love jazz more than any oth­er genre; but the Ger­man tra­di­tion of music is a bit more complex/formal to have appre­ci­at­ed it at the time. Johannes Brahms was cri­tiqued for sound­ing to mechan­i­cal and con­trived for cry­ing out loud.

    And the Sovi­ets actu­al­ly did ban and per­se­cute Jazz, where­as the sources for Nazis doing so are ques­tion­able at best.

  • They would have loved Coltrane, Park­er and Louis Arm­strong!

  • mark says:

    Amaz­ing- many igno­rant state­ments here.
    First of all- Skep­tic- as a writer and per­former of BOTH Jazz and Clas­si­cal music you are just plain wrong. Sec­ond­ly, its not that Ger­man music did­n’t use the cow­bell or pizzi­ca­to, its that dur­ing the Nazi era there were restric­tions placed on its use- sim­i­lar­ly there were restric­tions placed on mod­ern art by the Ger­man Kul­tur­bur­ro (which also reg­u­lat­ed all Jew­ish per­form­ing ensem­bles)- even by Ger­mans because it was con­sid­ered degen­er­ate, and essen­tial­ly abstract expres­sion­ism was equat­ed with Jews and Bar­bar­ians.
    Third- Please find the ref­er­ence at Yad Vashem where there is a denial about the soap and lamp­shades- here is the web­site.

  • mark says:

    Last­ly; equat­ing Jazz with 12 tone music is per­haps the height of igno­rance- although it is a close con­test between all of those state­ments.

  • N. C. Pirie says:

    Rules were made to be bro­ken <3 I always loved this song by Hugh Marsh from the 80s that focus­es exact­ly on these rules about jazz. The rules are set against a gor­geous jazz back­drop which, as it hap­pens, real­ly whet­ted the appetite for more jazz.

  • Ruth Feldman says: The goal of Nazis was to make every­thing Ger­man, includ­ing music. After Ger­mans marched in Poland they made laws against Pol­ish music and lit­er­a­ture. The “Pol­ish Pope” had joined the Pol­ish Cul­tur­al Under­ground to read lit­er­a­ture to groups of peo­ple. It was­n’t just jazz that was attacked.

  • Actu­al­ly, this might not be bogus. The Nazis were strug­gling indeed with swing­mu­sic. Not so much on ide­o­log­i­cal grounds, but on “It’s the ene­mies music, and our music is bet­ter”.
    They could­n’t find their musi­cal butt with both hands. The key is in the hands of the radio-broad­casts. A Ger­man radio­sta­tion should play prop­er Ger­man music. But swing­mu­sic was pop­u­lar, amongst some Ger­man youth (google ‘Swingju­gend’) and even the sol­diers. Even though there was a penal­ty on lis­ten­ing in on Eng­lish radio­sta­tions, it hap­pened. And it was a pro­pa­gandic night­mare for the Nazis. What they did, was bring swing­bands from the occu­pied coun­tries to Berlin’s Del­phi Palast and have them play the most pro­fane and for­bid­den swing­mu­sic live on mil­i­tary radio. As long as the sol­diers weren’t lis­ten­ing to Eng­lish sta­tions.
    A strange quirk was on when the US had­n’t enter WWII yet. Eng­lish music was for­bid­den, but Amer­i­can music was­n’t.
    But i divert.
    Back to the list in this post. In the Nether­lands there was a musi­col­o­gist, Willem Steensel van der Aa. Before the war, he com­piled a list of musi­co­log­i­cal terms iden­ti­fy­ing jazzmu­sic. It resem­bles the list above on a few points. The list itself did­n’t have any Nazi-ide­o­log­i­cal rea­son­ing on it. It was pure­ly for sci­en­tif­ic research. When the war start­ed, he teamed up with the Nazis and some­where in 1942, his list was used in a law stat­ing the pro­hi­bi­tion of jazzmu­sic (no growls, drum­so­los of more than 2 bars, no clar­inet above C3, etc). Sax­o­phones were allowed! But they frowned at the use of the sax­o­phone in this ‘monot­o­nous row­dy music’. But it was­n’t fined.

    So recap­ping: the Nazi-ide­o­log­i­cal moti­va­tion for the men­tioned rules might be a clue to whether or not this list is bogus. Lists of musi­co­log­i­cal nature *did* exist and *were* put to use.

    My source is a very-well writ­ten, schol­ar­ly book (in Dutch) called ‘Ongewen­schte Muziek’ by Kees Wouters.

    And yes, the post of Den­nis Glarys gives more sound back­ground.

  • jassdancer says:

    Skvorecky, point­ed out these were the Rules giv­en by Gauleit­er, a region­al Nazi offi­cial in Czecho­slo­va­kia.

    and of course he did his best by mem­o­ry, how­ev­er Gauleit­er’s rules, were his, not the Nazi par­ties.

    The arti­cle paints the pic­ture that these were the rules of the entire 3rd Reich, which is sim­ply not true.

    Heck you can google it…German pro­pa­gan­da loved to copy Amer­i­can jazz,bigband and put there own words to it.

    again…it takes for a few min­utes to find the the truth on the Ger­man’s dur­ing WW2, and their rules which changed like the tide, year by year, depend­ing on the need moral­i­ty of the coun­try.

    and if you want to see copies of jazz play­bills, dancers, sheet music i sug­gest this book:
    Swing­time in Deutsch­land by Stephan Wuthe

    Thank­ful­ly, his­to­ri­ans and researchers have done a good job of doc­u­men­ta­tion, for the schol­ars inter­est­ed.

    It’s hard to believe are debat­ed this…lol Hitlers dead relax, do some google…it’s not worth argu­ing over.

    Now lets play some music..;)

  • Nicholas says:

    Notes to Scep­tic…

    SCEPTIC writes:
    “So the source for this is an uncor­rob­o­rat­ed claim con­tained in a nov­el, ie a work of fic­tion, 70 years after the fact. The sup­po­si­tion of creduli­ty is offen­sive.”
    “While Nazis did some burn books it was sev­er­al orders of mag­ni­tude few­er than the num­ber of books burned by occu­py­ing Allied forces. Notably, Nazis did not ban books, as was, and is, com­mon in Allied coun­tries then and now.”

    My com­ment:
    First of all, I rec­om­mend you read the book:
    “A Brief His­to­ry Of THE BIRTH OF THE NAZIS”
    “How the Freiko­rps Blazed a Trail for Hitler”
    By Nigel Jones, fore­word by Michael Burleigh
    Car­roll & Graf Pub­lish­ers, New York
    ISBN 0–7867-1342–9

    You are refer­ring to — per­haps — ‘Kristall­nacht’, the ‘Night of Bro­ken Glass’ or ‘Crys­tal Night’ in Novem­ber, 1938:

    “Kristall­nacht, Crys­tal Night; also referred to as the Night of Bro­ken Glass, or Reich­skristall­nacht, Pogrom­nacht, and Novem­ber­pogrome, was a pogrom (a series of coor­di­nat­ed attacks) against Jews through­out Nazi Ger­many and parts of Aus­tria on 9–10 Novem­ber 1938, car­ried out by SA para­mil­i­tary and civil­ians. Ger­man author­i­ties looked on with­out inter­ven­ing. The attacks left the streets cov­ered with bro­ken glass from the win­dows of Jew­ish-owned stores, build­ings, and syn­a­gogues.”

    “At least 91 Jews were killed in the attacks, and 30,000 were arrest­ed and incar­cer­at­ed in con­cen­tra­tion camps. Jew­ish homes, hos­pi­tals, and schools were ran­sacked, as the attack­ers demol­ished build­ings with sledge­ham­mers. Over 1,000 syn­a­gogues were burned (95 in Vien­na alone) and over 7,000 Jew­ish busi­ness­es destroyed or dam­aged. Mar­tin Gilbert writes that no event in the his­to­ry of Ger­man Jews between 1933 and 1945 was so wide­ly report­ed as it was hap­pen­ing, and the accounts from the for­eign jour­nal­ists work­ing in Ger­many sent shock waves around the world. The Times wrote at the time: “No for­eign pro­pa­gan­dist bent upon black­en­ing Ger­many before the world could out­do the tale of burn­ings and beat­ings, of black­guard­ly assaults on defense­less and inno­cent peo­ple, which dis­graced that coun­try yes­ter­day.”

    “The pre­text for the attacks was the assas­si­na­tion of the Ger­man diplo­mat Ernst vom Rath by Her­schel Gryn­sz­pan, a Ger­man-born Pol­ish Jew res­i­dent in Paris. Kristall­nacht was fol­lowed by addi­tion­al eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion of Jews, and is viewed by his­to­ri­ans as part of Nazi Ger­many’s broad­er racial pol­i­cy, and the begin­ning of the Final Solu­tion and The Holo­caust.”

    Then SCEPTIC con­tin­ues:
    “Any­way: who cares about jazz? Ran­dom notes with ran­dom beats which, arranged ran­dom­ly, sounds ran­dom­ly good. Giv­en the glo­ri­ous Ger­man tra­di­tion in music they could hard­ly be blamed for eschew­ing an aton­al, ephemer­al fad that last­ed not much longer than the Third Reich itself.”

    My com­ment:
    It is inter­est­ing to read any­one write about things, seem­ing­ly as facts, when they are clear­ly express­ing an opin­ion. I start­ed play­ing Piano when I was 6 years old, got hooked on Jazz as a teenag­er, and have since received an edu­ca­tion from the Helsin­ki Pop / Jazz Con­ser­va­to­ry in Fin­land, Man­hat­tan School of Music in New York City AND Berklee Col­lege of Music in Boston, Mass­a­chu­setts.
    I care about Jazz. Care­ful­ly arrange and select­ed notes with a wide vari­ety of beats, rhythms and per­cus­sive ele­ments, arranged using tech­niques that can only be mas­tered after years of study and prac­tice, and sound inter­est­ing, chal­leng­ing, com­plex, good, great and even awe­some! Regard­ing the Glo­rius Ger­man tra­di­tion in Music, you are prob­a­bly refer­ring to Johann Sebas­t­ian Bach, Richard Wag­n­er, Johannes Brahms, Richard Strauss or ‘Ger­man­ic’ (Aus­tri­an and Ger­man speak­ing Com­posers and Musi­cians) such as W. A. Mozart, Johann Strauss – the Elder and Younger – and oth­ers.
    Final­ly, Jazz is alive and well to this day, thank you very much!!! To refer to Jazz as ‘an aton­al, ephemer­al fad that last­ed not much longer than the Third Reich itself’ is clear­ly proof of your com­plete igno­rance, mis­un­der­stand­ing and stu­pid­i­ty regard­ing a cul­tur­al her­itage that, in com­bi­na­tion with oth­er Art forms, has spawned a mul­ti­tude of Music, Art, Social Com­men­tary and one of the High­est forms of Cul­ture in the entire world.

    Only by chang­ing or adding to your state­ments the words “IN MY OPINION” can I accept read­ing what you wrote with­out com­ment­ing fur­ther.

    Sin­cere­ly and respect­ful­ly,

    Nicholas Mustelin
    Musi­cian, Edu­ca­tor, Author, Actor

  • Nicholas says:

    MARK, you seem to know what you are talk­ing about. Minor cor­rec­tion though:
    Aton­al Music and 12-tone Music are not the same thing.

    12-tone Music, a.k.a. Ser­i­al Music, can sim­ply be described as using all 12 notes from the Chro­mat­ic Scale, often with­out repeat­ing a sin­gle note until all 12 notes have been used. But per­haps it can best be char­ac­ter­ized as fol­lows:

    In music, seri­al­ism is a method or tech­nique of com­po­si­tion (Grif­fiths 2001, 116) that uses a series of val­ues to manip­u­late dif­fer­ent musi­cal ele­ments. Seri­al­ism began pri­mar­i­ly with Arnold Schoen­berg’s twelve-tone tech­nique, though his con­tem­po­raries were also work­ing to estab­lish seri­al­ism as one exam­ple of post-tonal think­ing (Whit­tall 2008, 1). Twelve-tone tech­nique orders the 12 notes of the chro­mat­ic scale, form­ing a row or series and pro­vid­ing a uni­fy­ing basis for a com­po­si­tion’s melody, har­mo­ny, struc­tur­al pro­gres­sions, and vari­a­tions. Oth­er types of seri­al­ism also work with sets, col­lec­tions of objects, but not nec­es­sar­i­ly with fixed-order series, and extend the tech­nique to oth­er musi­cal dimen­sions (often called “para­me­ters”), such as dura­tion, dynam­ics, and tim­bre. The idea of seri­al­ism is also applied in var­i­ous ways in the visu­al arts, design, and archi­tec­ture (Ban­dur 2001, 5, 12, 74; Ger­st­ner 1964, pas­sim). The musi­cal use of the word “series” should not be con­fused with the math­e­mat­i­cal term “series.”

    Aton­al Music is — sim­ply put — West­ern Music that does not have a tonal cen­ter and does not fol­low tra­di­tion­al ways of build­ing Har­mo­ny, Melody and Rhythm.

    Accord­ing to Wikipedia:
    Atonal­i­ty in its broad­est sense is music that lacks a tonal cen­ter, or key. Atonal­i­ty, in this sense, usu­al­ly describes com­po­si­tions writ­ten from about 1908 to the present day where a hier­ar­chy of pitch­es focus­ing on a sin­gle, cen­tral tone is not used, and the notes of the chro­mat­ic scale func­tion inde­pen­dent­ly of one anoth­er (Kennedy 1994). More nar­row­ly, the term atonal­i­ty describes music that does not con­form to the sys­tem of tonal hier­ar­chies that char­ac­ter­ized clas­si­cal Euro­pean music between the sev­en­teenth and nine­teenth cen­turies (Lan­sky, Per­le, and Head­lam 2001). “The reper­to­ry of aton­al music is char­ac­ter­ized by the occur­rence of pitch­es in nov­el com­bi­na­tions, as well as by the occur­rence of famil­iar pitch com­bi­na­tions in unfa­mil­iar envi­ron­ments” (Forte 1977, 1).

    More nar­row­ly still, the term is some­times used to describe music that is nei­ther tonal nor ser­i­al, espe­cial­ly the pre-twelve-tone music of the Sec­ond Vien­nese School, prin­ci­pal­ly Alban Berg, Arnold Schoen­berg, and Anton Webern (Lan­sky, Per­le, and Head­lam 2001). How­ev­er, “as a cat­e­gor­i­cal label, ‘aton­al’ gen­er­al­ly means only that the piece is in the West­ern tra­di­tion and is not ‘tonal’ ” (Rahn 1980, 1); “seri­al­ism arose part­ly as a means of orga­niz­ing more coher­ent­ly the rela­tions used in the pre­se­r­i­al ‘free aton­al’ music. … Thus many use­ful and cru­cial insights about even strict­ly ser­i­al music depend only on such basic aton­al the­o­ry” (Rahn 1980, 2).

    Late 19th- and ear­ly 20th-cen­tu­ry com­posers such as Alexan­der Scri­abin, Claude Debussy, Béla Bartók, Paul Hin­demith, Sergei Prokofiev, Igor Stravin­sky, and Edgard Varèse have writ­ten music that has been described, in full or in part, as aton­al (Bak­er 1980, 1986; Bertram 2000; Grif­fiths 2001; Kohlhase 1983; Lan­sky and Per­le 2001; Obert 2004; Orvis 1974; Parks 1985; Rülke 2000; Teboul 1995–96; Zim­mer­man 2002).

    Sin­cere­ly and respect­ful­ly

    Nicholas Mustelin — Pianist
    Musi­cian: Per­former, Com­pos­er, Arranger, Edu­ca­tor

    (And yes, I like to write long com­ments here.…..)

  • Who says:

    Real­ly ? can you give me a link? ‘While Nazis did some burn books it was sev­er­al orders of mag­ni­tude few­er than the num­ber of books burned by occu­py­ing Allied forces. ’ Srsly?

  • It’s prob­a­bly not very true to life, but I hap­pened to be total­ly enter­tained by the book “Half- Blood Blues” by Esi Edugyan. I real­ly, real­ly hope jazz music pissed off the Nazis!
    BTW, Parisian Liv­ing call their improv stuff “sloven­ly jazz” because, well, we don’t work very hard on it!

  • mark says:

    Thanks, I can accept the cor­rec­tion; although accu­ra­cy would require us to call it pan-tonal music. Either way- the com­par­i­son w/ the tonal­i­ty of much of Jazz is fair­ly inac­cu­rate.

  • Oded Fried-Gaon says:

    So hard to believe… but as we well know, absolute truth.
    extra­or­di­nary that this was real­i­ty not very long ago.
    the world is full of fear, and right­ly so: it’s a scary world, and it’s very hard to live through it all, but to let fear rule you, and to let fear lead you to rule oth­ers is live blind­ly, fool­ish­ly, and filled with much more unnec­es­sary dif­fi­cul­ty!

  • Dan Laurin says:

    And exact­ly why is it strange that Marx­ist Adorno is against jazz? Ever heard of Sovi­et jazz in the peri­od 1920–1952? Me nei­ther. No ide­olo­gies are more against moder­ni­ty than the brown/black/red ones. To be aston­ished about com­mu­nist resent­ment against Char­lie Park­er is to be embar­rass­ing­ly igno­rant.

  • David Gracia says:

    Nazi Ger­many did well in pro­hibit­ing degen­er­ate musik, this mod­ern jazz and pop music that acts like alco­hol or any oth­er drug in people´s minds, they get addic­tive and aggres­sive. I don’t lis­ten to any music at all.

  • rt says:

    “David Gra­cia says:
    April 5, 2015 at 2:38 pm
    Nazi Ger­many did well in pro­hibit­ing degen­er­ate musik, this mod­ern jazz and pop music that acts like alco­hol or any oth­er drug in people´s minds, they get addic­tive and aggres­sive. I don’t lis­ten to any music at all.”

    LOL. Well, folks, there’s your evi­dence of the “moral supe­ri­or­i­ty” of a per­son offend­ed by jazz and pop­u­lar music, yet who sup­ports a Nazi dic­ta­tor­ship.

    What are the chances he has any rec­i­p­ro­cal lov­ing rela­tion­ships, even with his fel­low total­i­tar­i­ans?

  • ed roberts says:


    How can a per­son be as STUPID as you obvi­ous­ly are?
    Jazz de-gen­er­a­tive music?

  • Burt says:

    I thought you were about to say, “I dis­like any music made by any­one with the name ‘Neil’ ”

  • Michel Saint-Laurent says:

    I wont waste my time on you… You are just so bla­tant­ly igno­rant. On that, I’ll “Take five”, if you know what I mean!

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.