Re: more on musical trends
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--- K J WALSH <thekoba@...> wrote:
> I seem to recall that the slogan at the time was,Some people might have said that, but although western
> he plays jazz; tomorrow he betrays his country" or
> something to that effect.
sources make a lot of noise about "Soviet repression"
in cultural areas, it really wasn't banned.
I've been trying to learn a bit more about the
so-called Zhdanovshchina the period when Andrei
Aleksandrovich Zhdanov who was head of the Communist
Party in Leningrad and then after World War II took on
the cultural battle against liberalism. His attack on
the leading lights of Soviet music in 1948 is well
known but as you get deeper into it, by actually
trying to find excerpts of the talks he gave and the
discussions, they were simply trying to press the
musicians to produce music that the people liked and
not music that was technically innovative but sounded
In a market economy, whoever pays literally calls the
tune. So music is geared to the market. Increasingly
today it's bourgeois and petty-bourgeois teenage girls
who buy CDs, but in the classical sphere it's the
wealthy who may no nothing but want to look
But in a socialist society, you don't make musicians
serve the market (by starving them if they don't) you
employ them and then have to find ways to influence
them either propaganda, or pressure or whatever.
So it's a complex issue. Zhdanov's approach may not
have yielded the best results, but I think what he was
going for was commendable.
What's funny about it is that when I listen to Soviet
classical music from those days, what was "way out"
music for Zhdanov sounds pretty normal to me, and that
is because capitalist cultural degeneration has
"progressed" incredibly far since 1948.
Anyhow the post-war period is very interesting because
it was absolutely vital for the USSR to shake off the
liberal influences and Zionist influences that became
very, very strong during the united front and even
affected comrade Stalin's politics vis-a-vis the west
right after the war as you saw in some of those
interviews and speeches I sent you some months ago.
He obviously saw the need to switch course, against
liberalism, against Zionism, against the west that was
building up its cold war offensive. Stalin ended up
after lots of pressure from Kim Il Sung in supporting
Democratic Korea's preparedness for war to liberate
the south (at least that what some of those documents
that have now been published seem to indicate).
But in the end, I don't think he was able to
adequately change course, though he tried.
> I'm given to understand that in traditional ChineseYes, I think that's true. Of course there are
> music, there are five notes, rather than the eight
> notes in Western music. Is there any truth to that?
half-tones and quarter tones etc., but I think the
scale is with five notes. Today they write music
using western notation though.
> I remember back when the Iraq Satellite Channel wasWell, even those Iraqi music videos were western
> up; it's been a year or thereabouts. They would
> have music videos, and it was quite fascitating to
> even though I couldn't understand the words, to what
> Arab music sounded like with relatively little
> influence. The one you did explain to me was the
> called "Jerusalem Is Calling".
influenced but not totally subverted. But you get it
Well, I suppose when even jazz sounds normal, one has been
exposed to bad music long enough to be accustomed to it.
I'll truly panic when rap starts to sound normal to me :-)
I'm given to understand that Soviet composers tried some
very interesting experiments during the Stalin administration.
In one case, there was an attempt to have an orchestra without
a conductor in which everyone would spontaneously play the
correct tune. I suppose that was an attempt to take egalitarianism
to its logical conclusion.