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Old 08 August 2009, 04:29 AM
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snopes snopes is offline
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Icon106 Nazi Germany's Dance Band Rules of 1940

An oldie but a goodie:



Nazi Germany's Dance Band Rules of 1940

Note: This is no joke. Translated into English from the original document.

*1. *In the repertoire of light orchestras and dance bands, pieces in
fox-trot rhythm/(so-called swing) are not to exceed 20%;

*2. *In the repertoire of this so-called jazz type, preference is to be
given to compositions in a major key and to lyrics expressing joy in life
/('Kraft durch Freude'), rather than Jewishly gloomy lyrics;

*3. *As to the tempo, too, preference is to be given to brisk compositions
as opposed to slow ones /(so-called blues);/ however, the pace must not
exceed a certain degree of allegro commensurate with the Aryan sense for
discipline and moderation. On no account will Negroid excesses in
tempo/(so-called hot jazz)/ be permitted, or in solo performances/(so-called breaks);/

*4. *So-called jazz compositions may contain at the most 10% syncopation;
the remainder must form a natural legato movement devoid of hysterical
rhythmic references characteristic of the music of the barbarian races and
conducive to dark instincts alien to the German people /(so-called 'riffs');

*5. *Strictly forbidden is the use of instruments alien to the German
spirit /(e.g. so-called cowbells, flex-a-tone, brushes, etc.) as well as
all mutes which turn the noble sound of brass-wind instruments into a
Jewish-Freemasonic yell /(so-called wa-wa, in hat, etc.);

*6. *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; plucking of 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, let strict care be taken lest the string is allowed to patter
on the sordine, which is henceforth forbidden;

*8. *Provocative rising to one's feet during solo performance is

*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 violin-celli, violas,
or possibly a suitable folk instrument.

Baldur von Blodheim
Reichsmusicfuhrer und Oberscharfuhrer SS*
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Old 08 August 2009, 05:32 AM
Troberg Troberg is offline
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Googling Baldur von Blodheim or Reichsmusicführer turns up nothing except this text. Baldur von Blodheim also sounds a lot like a "bad movie fake nazi name", not a real name.

I'd say fake.
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Old 08 August 2009, 12:05 PM
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boogers boogers is offline
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The Nazis forbade the use of cowbells? You know what that means.

They couldn't have played "Don't Fear the Reaper" at the death camps.

Yes, I'm ready to go to Hell now.
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Old 08 August 2009, 02:37 PM
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Billy Beccles Billy Beccles is offline
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I can't get in touch with Baldur von Blodheim, but I've got a saxophonist here who'd like to say hello and offer his thoughts:

I’d certainly be curious to see the original document, because there are a number of things that seem quite suspect in their translation. Not to mention, whoever did the translation, seemed to not have access to an umlaut (ü) in important words like Reichmusicführer and Oberscharführer, and didn’t know how to correctly spell the words in the absence of an umlaut.

Speaking of not knowing how to spell correctly… A missing umlaut is not the only thing wrong in Reichmusicfuhrer. In German, the word music is spelled with a “k” at the end. So the title, if it existed at all, spelled correctly would be: Reichsmusikführer. Since that word of the document was not translated, why the errors in spelling? Mmm
Curiousity whetted, I went out looking for trouble and eventually found this:

These rules are quite well known in the Jazz community - the list Dan posted is more or less a word for word transcription of a list that appears in Joseph Skvorecky's Red Music - with the addition of this Baldur von Blodheim.
And as if that weren't disappointing enough, we get this letter which is angrier than Andy Rooney kicking Ali G:

The whole thing is a hoax. There was no such ruling and a Reichsmusicfuehrer [sic: wrong spelling] did not exist. Baldur is a play on the Reichsjugendfuehrer Baldur von Schirach (till 1940) who did exist. The connection with the SS is contrived.

I am sorry I cannot be of further help, but you better not post such obvious Halloween nonsense.

Michael H. Kater
And that is from October 2000, which quite possibly puts the old tin lid on it.*

On my searches I found this site which doesn't really get us anywhere but offers this observation from CrowBear Schmitt:

i knew a german drummer who's father had been a drummer in the german army
he was one of the many drummers that paraded down the champ elysees
anyway, this guy would put on civilians clothes on week ends & go & play w: the french musicians in the latin quarter
it was called degenerate musik by the nazis
he had a great time until he was sent to the eastern front
Which is early Brecht or unrevised archie and mehitabel, I'm not quite sure.

But just to let you have some idea of the real rules for swing, have a shufti at this clip from The World At War about five minutes in. Then go get the whole series, it'll do you good.

Then have a listen to Charlie Schwedler who was, as snopesters doubtless fully know, ordered by the Nazis to play swing (but not, regrettably, boogie-woogie and jive) to put some ginger up the American fundament.

* It's quite sweet to note that in 2004 the little schoolchildren of east Renfrewshire were given the same info as in the OP (link opens as a pdf, and the relevant bit is on page 10). I suppose it satisfies the same criterion as that brilliant film Zulu: it's truthful without the impediment of accuaracy.

Last edited by snopes; 08 August 2009 at 04:07 PM. Reason: Removed pointless reproduction of entire OP
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Old 08 August 2009, 03:07 PM
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Tootsie Plunkette Tootsie Plunkette is offline
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Yes, Josef Škvorecký's "Red Music" seems to have been the source. I'm trying to find the text or an excerpt online. If I wanted to pay $16.97 for a year's subscription to Harpers, I might be able to read it here, or I might listen to an episode of "This American Life" which referenced it.

Škvorecký was a novelist but apparently his works were informed by his own experience:
New York, Alfred A Knopf. 1979, First American Edition. (ISBN: 0394502671) ... "Jazz-haunted" novellas prefaced with a memoir of Josef Skvorecky's "jazz-obsessed youth" -- he played in a jazz band called "RED MUSIC" -- under two regimes that hated jazz and forbade it -- calling it Degenerate and Decadent.
ETA: Found it quoted in someone's blog:

Also I’ve been rereading Josef Skvorecky. His collection of essays, Talking Moscow Blues. The essay, “Red Music” where he talks about Nazi restriction on jazz during the war is astounding. The piece was published originally along with his fantastic Bass Saxophone novella, which I remember stumbling upon in an airport when I was about fifteen.

The Nazis actually provided “objective” criteria and percentages in their rules.

For example:

“So-called jazz composition may contain at most 10% syncopation; the remainder must consist of a natural legato movement devoid of the hysterical rhythmic reverses characteristic of the music of the barbarian races and conducive to dark instincts alien to the German people (so-called riffs)”

So it seems the list of rules as we have it originates with Škvorecký; whether it is real historical list or a fully or partly-imagined product of his artistic imagination remains to be seen.

Last edited by Tootsie Plunkette; 08 August 2009 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 08 August 2009, 03:30 PM
Steve Eisenberg Steve Eisenberg is offline
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Here is an example of the kind of music they opposed:

Marlene Dietrich sings Lili Marleen in German

The Nazis forced Lale Andersen to do an upbeat version of the same very popular wartime song. I think this, obviously minus the video, is it:

Soldatenlieder "Lilli Marleen" by Lale Andersen
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Old 08 August 2009, 04:09 PM
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Bonnie Bonnie is offline
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Skvorecky produces this list in his "Eine Kleine Jassmusik," translated by Alice Denesova, which appears in Vasa D. Mihailovich's White Stones and Fir Trees: An Anthology of Contemporary Slavic Literature (1977). (The original essay, in Czech, seems to have been published in 1968.) Part of the English translation is viewable via Google Books. Skvorecky mentions that

... Volkstanzmusik published an order by the Reichsmusikfuhrer concerning popular and dance music. "In recent months," the document said (I am quoting from memory and cannot guarantee the exact wording, but I do guarantee the authenticity of the unmistakenly Aryan spirit of the piece), "in places of entertainment in some areas of the Reich, the spread of music pervaded by the Jewish-Bolshevik-plutocratic infection of nigger jazz has been noticeable."
And then he presents the list, which is the same version snopes presents, and obviously appears to be produced from memory. (If there's a more specific citation, which I doubt, it's at least not viewable in this limited view.) In any event, this English version of the list, then, is at least as old as 1977.

(The version of "Red Music" over at Harper's doesn't include the list, by the way.)

-- Bonnie
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Old 08 August 2009, 06:30 PM
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Bonnie Bonnie is offline
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There was no such ruling and a Reichsmusicfuehrer [sic: wrong spelling] did not exist.
For what it's worth, here's something noting that Herms Niel (whose real name was Hermann Nieleblock) held the position of "Reichsmusikzugfuhrer" at some point during Nazi rule. See the text on p. 217 of this PDF (auf Deutsch) and see footnote 125 at the bottom of that page. (My German is sufficiently rusty that I don't dare offer a translation, but I welcome the efforts of someone fluent in the language. Actually, the whole document looks interesting, but it's way beyond my abilities to decipher German.)

-- Bonnie
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Old 10 August 2009, 05:54 AM
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Don Enrico Don Enrico is offline
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Originally Posted by Bonnie View Post
For what it's worth, here's something noting that Herms Niel (whose real name was Hermann Nieleblock) held the position of "Reichsmusikzugfuhrer" at some point during Nazi rule.
To be precise, that is "RAD-Reichsmusikzugführer". RAD is the Reichsarbeitsdienst, a Third Reich forced labour organisation for the German unemployed. Herr Niel seems to have been the leader of the RAD's marching band, having the rank of a "Obermusikzugführer" (a OF-1 rank, US Second Lieutenant), later "Hauptmusikzugführer" (US First Lieutenant). He may have had a say in things musical, but he wasn't the "Reichsmusikführer".

Music was ruled during the Nazi regime by the "Reichsmusikkammer" (Reich Chamber of Music, more information here). President of the Reichsmusikkammer from 1933 to 1935 was the composer Richard Strauss, then the conductor Peter Raabe.

The site linked above has some more interesting information on Jazz under the Nazis, as well as Hamburgs Swingjugend (Swing Kids).

Don Enrico
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