Nazi rules for jazz performers


132 Responses to “Nazi rules for jazz performers”

  1. We really did well to shoot as many Nazis as we did.

  2. gramturismo says:

    As if the Nazi’s weren’t enough of a buzzkill already!

  3. Hegelian says:

    So, would any Lawrence Welk music violate this set of rules? Just wondering…you never know who might be a secret nazi…

    I’m kidding of course, well, I think I’m kidding… :-)

    • Saltine says:

      Yes. You read the rules, right? Maybe you haven’t had to suffer thru Welk like I have, but, yes, there’s syncopation, and scatting, and breaks, and saxomophones, and string plucking. Heck, there’s even sad songs, and some minor key, in the maudlin “Jewish” manner.

      • Deidzoeb says:

        Those rules are not in laymen’s terms. Looks like it requires a pretty good grounding in musical terminology to understand all of them. “Patter on the sordine” sounds like the sales pitch of a fish monger maybe?

      • bardfinn says:

        No matter what you can say about L Welk, “soulless” ain’t it. It’s there — carefully controlled so as not to frighten parents and holy rollers, but it’s there.

      • twency says:

        I don’t recall a whole lot of  “Jewish-Freemasonic yowl”ing on Lawrence Welk, but maybe I just wasn’t listening carefully enough.

    • msbpodcast says:

      Don’t razz on Welk, man.

      That cat knew what he was doing.

      I once heard an album he made called “Electric Champagne” where Welk and the band absolutely proved that they got it, but they didn’t want it.

      I have nothing but respect for that man.

      I didn’t like his music and he didn’t like mine but I knew that he knew. He could lay down sounds.

      I wish I could find a pressing of that album. It was AWESOME.

      • ill lich says:

         My record nerd spidey sense is tingling– I am familiar with faux-hip LPs by Liberace, Doc Severinson and even various polka bands, but I call BS on this Welk “electric champagne” album.

      • penguinchris says:

        @boingboing-566a9968b43628588e76be5a85a0f9e8:disqus  I typically don’t bother looking through the LPs anymore when I go to thrift stores (which is several times a week), but considering how many Welk LPs populate the shelves at your average thrift store I’ll definitely be on the lookout for this one!

  4. Monty Loftus says:

    If only they’d had a little cowbell, maybe none of this would’ve happened…

  5. Gosh I wonder why Jewish lyrics under the Nazis were so gloomy? Any suggestions?

    Also: plucking of the strings is prohibited, since it is damaging to the instrument. Thats awesome concern trolling right there.

    • msbpodcast says:

      I wonder what they would have done about Pete Townsend’s windmilling his arm over the strings and ending his concerts by smashing his guitars (there were never any encores,) or Hendrix’s setting his guitar on fire with lighter fluid.

      Now those were destructive instrument torture tests. 

      • paulj says:

        With that suspiciously prominent nose and his obliquely gay or sexually ambiguous lyrics, Townshend wouldn’t have been allowed to perform.

    • Josh Jasper says:

       I went down to the Beth Israel Infirmary
      And saw my bubelah there
      Laid out out with a schmata over her face
      So cold, so sweet, so fair,
      so could she not put on a sweater?

  6. Toby Graves says:

    Interestingly there are people known colloquially as Jazz Nazis whose demands aren’t that different.   “Stick to standards” “No electric instruments”  There are Free Jazz Nazis as well.

  7. When we take that inevitable time machine journey to 1930′s Germany, someone needs to bring some dubstep. Let them cower before the excesses of the wubwub.

  8. Antinous / Moderator says:

    I think all that leaves is this.

  9. OgilvyTheAstronomer says:

    Jesus Christ. Someone should make a movie about the life of the guy who wrote this.

  10. sidereal says:

    Jewishly Gloomy is a stellar band name

  11. Shava Nerad says:

    Part of the context of this is that the Nazis associated improvized musical forms not only with Der Schwartzen (blacks, definitely inferior in their minds) but also with Jews and Gypsies (Sinti, for the most part, in Germany, and more generally Roma as they expanded) who were also part of the problems requiring “solutions.”  So such music was obviously corrupting.

    If you go through that list and compare it to klezmer, for example, or Django Rheinhardt who (as Wikipedia would have it) “invented a whole new style of jazz guitar technique” which sprang from Romani traditions, and was

    Corrupt me more, please…:)

    Do you want to learn more?

    • MarcVader says:

      Es heisst die Schwarzen, nicht der Schwartzen!

      • Tchoutoye says:

        Grammar Nazi.

        • MarcVader says:

          Just correcting his Nazi grammar.

          • Allen says:

            Allow me to one-up your Nazi-ing Nazi grammar by saying that in this case, the dative, it would be “den Schwarzen”. As the Germans say: das Boo-yah!

          • MarcVader says:

             Well played Allen. However when incorporating foreign language fragments as in the present case it is customary to use the non-inflected nominative. I will also admit to a certain schadenfreude about what I would call your mistake!

          • HahTse says:

            Actually it is “den Schwarzen”, since with=”mit”, “mit” demands the dative and that makes the correct article (male, plural, dativ, destinct) “den”.

            Just sayin’.

            Edit: Seems like Allen was faster. That happens when you don’t refresh before you comment. *sigh*

            But your excuse is quite lame, mister Vader!

      • bardfinn says:

        Could be either way. Usage of synecdoche in German, including Nazi propaganda (The Jew) is common, and creative spelling to invoke harsher mouth sounds when referring to The Other have precedent as well.

        • MarcVader says:

           Hm. It’s conceivable that schwarz might be spelled with an additional T, though I believe unlikely in this modern period. But usage of the wrong preposition? Never.

          • Gyro Protagonist says:

            Except “der” and “den” are both definite articles, so no prepositions were harmed in the making of that sentence. 

          • MarcVader says:

            @boingboing-ca0b4cdd24cd14d963effac4702acb2f:disqus Dang, you are right I actually wrote preposition! What was I thinking! I meant article, thanks for pointing that out.

  12. iburl says:

    I think I’m starting to get the whole “Germans love Hasslehoff” thing.

  13. SedanChair says:

    Negroid excesses in tempo

    Nothing says “you lost” like 180 bpm.

  14. hmm, now I cant decide whether So-Called Breaks or So-Called Riffs will be the name of my next band…thanks Nazis!

  15. chrism says:

    I’m completely with them on banning saxophones, drum solos and excessive use of the wah-wah. If only they’d just stopped there instead of doing all that other stuff. 

    However, as a surrealist unicorn chaser, here’s Der Kapitän Beefheart’s own, rather less restrictive, set of rules. Much better:

  16. Wreckrob8 says:

    Still more tolerant than the British government banning rave music and raves:

    A ‘rave’ is defined as a gathering of 100+ people, at which amplified music (‘wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats’[!) is played which is likely to cause serious distress to the local community, in the open air and at night.

    1994 Criminal Justice Act. The relevant clauses are yet to be repealed I believe. Just in case.

  17. “jewish/freemasonic yowl” is *definitely* the name of my next band.

    You know.  Metaphorically.

  18. RJ says:

    I don’t believe I’ve ever said this seriously on the internet, but that is absolute insanity.

  19. taghag says:

    a regime that tolerates lederhosen but bans cowbell was bound to fail if for no other reason than inconsistency.

  20. Lemoutan says:

    Isn’t this topic pre-Godwinned?

  21. petsounds says:

    I have to agree with #9; there’s not many who can pull off scat. Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway…that’s about it.

  22. PXL says:

    What about Howard Moon?

  23. MrEricSir says:

    Why do I suddenly have the urge to watch Top Secret?

  24. Normanda Walker says:

    Wasn’t it the Jews who started the top-ten-list-of-dos-and-don’ts fad?

    11 Thou shall not covet thy neighbour’s Miles Davis collection.

    12 And ragtime is RIGHT OUT!

  25. Guest says:

    My god, they really had no soul

  26. millie fink says:

    Pretty ironic, considering Nazis themselves played Jazz.

    Charlie and His Orchestra

    “Let’s Go Bombing!” 

    (It’s becoming quite the thing to do!) 

  27. slowtiger says:

    As ridiculous to read these 10 commandments are, let’s not forget that each and every censorship in the world uses likewise arbitrary and plain stupid “rules”. Be it the US film rating system, the Great Chinese Internet wall, the german Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Schriften, the belorussian laws against applauding or being silent at demonstrations …

    Censorship sucks, everywhere, is totally stupid, and should be swept from this planet entirely.

    • bardfinn says:

      These rules aren’t arbitrary. They’re designed to remove individual artistic, performer, and listener freedom to express from the sphere of composing, performing, listening and dancing.
      It is a way of enforcing the conservation and imposition of a particular culture.
      German (in general) folk dances are collective dances. Even more modern dance styles (waltzes) are about the beauty and harmony of units and the whole (in a ballroom).
      It’s not about restricting the music for the sake of restricting the music. All that music is (switching terminology here) instructions to your booty, legs, and feet.
      Move with and for the sake of the collective is the unifying theme here.

      • Wreckrob8 says:

        Surely it is both. The rules are random. They can never quite define what degeneracy is but they do obviously have a precise target and desired effect. It does seem to be the combination of music/dance and collective action which really gets to them. Fuck them all.

        • darrylayo says:

          The rules are not “random.” They are specifically designed to drive out various cultural influences.

          The word “random” means unplanned or without guidance.

    • freshacconci says:

      It’s not simply about censorship. The Nazis sought to erase cultures in that specifically precise German fashion.

  28. Deidzoeb says:

    Dig that crazy Jewish-Freemasonic yowl! (So-called gutbucket.)

  29. rekoil says:

    I’m remembering a song from the 80s that got a few plays on my local alternative radio station (WHFS, RIP) that featured a voiceover reading of these rules over examples of “violations” worked into the song’s arrangement. Sound familiar to anyone?

    • rekoil says:

      Found it: “Rules Were Made To Be Broken” by Hugh Marsh, with vocals by Robert Palmer (yes, THAT Robert Palmer) and Lisa Dalbello. It features not just the rules, but other excerpts from Skvorecky’s memoir. 

      Of course, it’s on YouTube:

      •  Well done. You posted this while I was doing my own searching.

      •  I was gonna show up here and post a link to this vid and be a hero. You got here first.  And yeah, I hate that WHFS is gone. It was on its way down when the Einstein family sold the station in the early 90′s and they moved from Annapolis to New Carrolton. WHFS was the coolest thing when I lived in the DC area.

        And now KTRU, the station I grew up on, is now online only.

    • Preston Sturges says:

      Remember back in their Bethesda low power days when the weekends were all Israeli music, IIRC?

    • Wreckrob8 says:

      There is also Dreadzone’s Fight The Power featuring Chomsky protesting government censorship of music and dance in the UK.

  30. Preston Sturges says:

    They really did play up the ethnicity of jazz back then, and black people were certainly present in Germany.  Hitler mentions black lawyers in Mein Kampf in pretty much the same way wingnuts describe Obama.  I’m sure they would have really frowned on Duke Ellingtons “Jungle Music”
    “…….trumpet player Bubber Miley joined the band, bringing with him his unique plunger mute style of playing. This sound came to be called the “Jungle Sound”, and it was largely responsible for Ellington’s early success……” 

  31. Preston Sturges says:

    Anybody seen the movie “Swing Kids” with Christian bale ?
    It’s the true story of German kids that danced to banned music, which could lead to actual street fighting with the Hitler Youth.

  32. Monte Davis says:

    The article points to The Bass Saxophone, but much more of Skvorecky’s fiction is translated and well worth finding: the Engineer of Human Souls and The Swell Season stand with the best of Kundera’s better-known work. Much of Eastern Europe got to compare and contrast the blessings of two totalitarian approaches, but  IMHO the Czechs (maybe building on Hasek’s Good Soldier Svejk from the relatively benign imperial days?) were the best at showing the kinds of personas people built to cope.

    • Christopher says:

      Before reading the article I was trying to remember the name of Skvorecky’s novel about a saxophone player who played jazz for a Nazi audience. It’s been too many years since I read it.

      The one I’ve never forgotten, though, is Ms. Silver’s Past, which I found so haunting and beautiful that it’s stayed with me.

  33. VitaminCM says:

    How did they leave out Autotuning vocals?

  34. bardfinn says:

    Proof the Nazis were soulless.

    • retepslluerb says:

      Strange. And here I thought their treatment of religious and ethnic minorities, civilians in conquered nations, homosexuals, communists and mentally or physically disabled would have been a dead giveaway. .

      • bardfinn says:

        I concur. I was inserting an understated jab at neo-Nazis (in my BoingBoing?) who listen to and/or perform music that would transgress the letter or spirit of these rules, who would also unthinkingly spit the phrase “The Holocaust never happened!”. Twisting the screw of cognitive dissonance, as it were. Pushing a leitmotif of a diminished seventh in a mandatory-major-key world.

  35. I see this crop up every once in awhile, and think back to the excellent 1987 Hugh Marsh album Shaking the Pumpkin. Marsh has been a hired gun violinist for a whole swack of artists, including Bruce Cockburn. The album in question includes the song “Rules Are Made to be Broken” with vocals by Robert Palmer and Lisa Dalbello, in which Dalbello (remember her, Cory, or were you too young?) recites these very rules. You can hear it here:

  36. tré says:

    As a musician and member of an inferior race, I suddenly understand my playing a little better. Surprised they didn’t ban tritones.

    • bardfinn says:

      That would have involved banning the music of Liszt and Richard Wagner. Notably, a tritone is at the heart of the “Tristan Chord”, the leitmotif of Tristan in Tristan und Isolde, where it serves to highlight the heroism, initiative, and Ubermenschlichkeit (superior man’s qualities) of Tristan — at least, as was interpreted by the Nazis — as it “transcends” its functionality in the tonal arrangement.
      They likely felt they’d said enough by banning minor keys and ‘gloom’.

  37. el dueno says:

    Tv program managers have very similar rules. I think that’s the reason you can’t find many programs on the tube since the audience for what is left is minimal and not enough to attract sponcership.

  38. MandoZink says:

    This is hilarious. I would imagine that if one was attempting to abide by the rules, a sudden burst of inspiration at any point would have to be countered by an immediate flood of suppressive guilt. I would not want to play in that world.

    • MandoZink says:

      This reminds me of a past incident. I was invited to play at a St. Patrick’s Day party with several members of the Louisville Mandolin Orchestra over a decade ago. I provided the sheet music, but since I hated to read notes myself, as soon as I memorized the tunes I practiced them and added expressive syncopation and imagined trills and riffs. The orchestra folks only played by reading. They would stumble every time I played any “un-notated” coloration. I just could not constrain what I heard in my head. I eventually taught one of them to also play by ear, which I am inclined to do.

  39. Josh Jasper says:

    Oh, so *this* is why a months old thread suddenly had new comments.  I was wondering what happened.

  40. TimRowledge says:

    Rule 11: all light orchestras and dance bands must include a wide selection of Thrash Oompah numbers in their repertoire.

    Don’t believe it exists? I had a predominantly Swiss/German crew build the timber frame for my house last summer and they regaled us with endless CDs worth of Thrash Oompah, Death Metal Oompah, New Wave Oompah, Blues Oompah and… ABBA Oompah covers. I still have to use regular ear-bleach washes.

  41. ill lich says:

    These rules as a whole seem to indicate that the end result would be a “jazz” performance in name only, and would not actually sound like jazz at all; no soloing?  No mutes?  No minor keys?

    Some of the rules make no sense from a musical point of view:”no more than 10% syncopation”– who the hell measures how much syncopation there is in a song?  I suspect the actual amount of syncopation wouldn’t matter, as the appointed censor would just say “I know too much syncopation when I hear it.”

    • Travis James says:

      There isn’t actually anything anyone can refer to since it only came from his memory… 

      “he assures us (“they had engraved themselves deeply on my mind”)”

  42. Vanwall Green says:

    The ban was only as good as the enforcement. Many German soldiers, especially lots of  Luftwaffe pilots, listened to every schräge musik album they could get their hands on, altho they certainly didn’t admit. In WWI, there was the same general viewpoint on both sides regarding the nascent Jazz music creeping into the young soldiers’ favorite records, but you can’t keep good music down. By the end of the Great War, No. 56 Squadron RFC, used the new tune, “The Darktown Strutter’s Ball” as the squadron’s unofficial song. There was really no going back, Pandora’s Box was open.

  43. Frank Diekman says:

    I’d love to go back in time and play some Einsterzende Neubauten for whoever wrote this list.

  44. ill lich says:

    I recall a friend had a music theory book, printed in America well before the rise of Hitler, that also denigrated “negro jazz” as wild cacophonous jungle sounds, not worthy of the term “music.”

    Wonder what they thought of “Le Sacre Du Printemps”?

  45. Christopher Miller says:

    “Characteristic of the barbarian races” you say?  In the Western World, aren’t the German races historically synonymous with barbarism?

    Oh wait, this is BB, gotta class it up with a Goethe quote or something.  Can’t quite remember it, something like:  It will be a long time yet before the German people can say, “it has been a long time since we were barbarians”.


  46. awjt says:

    This is befuct.

  47. buddy66 says:

    “Patter on the sordine” sounds like something by Slim Gaillard.

  48. tonalc2 says:

    As entertaining as the list and the ensuing conversation are, the list itself is a hoax from at least ten years ago:

    • Christopher Miller says:

      Bummer.  Maybe the Nazis weren’t so bad.

    • If it’s a hoax, it has to be more than ten years old because this list was quoted in a song from 1990. Links to the song have been posted twice in this thread.

      • John Pienaar says: ““It is not exactly humor — it is a part of Czech fiction writer Joseph Škvorecký’s story “Eine Kleine Jazzmusik”, published in 1966. Everybody in 1960s Europe knew it was a fake, expecially because of the “Reischmusikfuehrer’s” first and last name (which sounds too unnaturally much Hitler Era-ish — well, as if an imaginary U.S. functionary from the same time were called Roosevelt Newdeal.) But then, as the 1960s in their order became history, this feeling of on-purpose exaggeration somehow vanished, and newer generations of writers now meet this excerpt, which since the arrival of the Internet became a popular mega-quotation, now lives its own life; its readers, unaware of its being part of a certain writer’s fiction story (and, I am afraid, of the very existence of that certain writer,) now believe it to be a genuine Nazi document.”

  49. wrybread says:

    It must have been very satisfying for the author of these rules to be such a music nazi, with the power to legislate.

    But seriously, he strikes me as mostly a classical music purist, with just enough “ra ra Aryan race” nouveau nazi values to make his pronouncements sound modern and moral to the nazi ear.

  50. TheMudshark says:

    I agree with the restrictions on saxophone use.

  51. Kapitein Pannekoek says:

    And the end result: Heino.

  52. wangstein says:

    Not to say the Nazis had the right idea, but these sort of rules might offer a final solution to the autotune problem.

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