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Re: more on musical trends

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  • thekoba@aztecfreenet.org
    ================= Begin forwarded message ================= Dear Kevin, ... Some people might have said that, but although western sources make a lot of noise
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 20 6:27 PM
      ================= Begin forwarded message =================

      Dear Kevin,


      --- K J WALSH <thekoba@...> wrote:

      > I seem to recall that the slogan at the time was,
      > "Today
      > he plays jazz; tomorrow he betrays his country" or
      > something to that effect.

      Some people might have said that, but although western
      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
      like crap.

      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
      "cultured".

      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 Chinese
      > music, there are five notes, rather than the eight
      > notes in Western music. Is there any truth to that?

      Yes, I think that's true. Of course there are
      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 was
      > up; it's been a year or thereabouts. They would
      > often
      > have music videos, and it was quite fascitating to
      > listen,
      > even though I couldn't understand the words, to what
      > Arab music sounded like with relatively little
      > Western
      > influence. The one you did explain to me was the
      > video
      > called "Jerusalem Is Calling".

      Well, even those Iraqi music videos were western
      influenced but not totally subverted. But you get it
      everywhere.

      Dear Eric,

      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.

      Comradely,

      Kevin
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