Gina Vivinetto’s Greatest Hits

Why tyrants are afraid of the power of music

It’s not just a myth that rock n’ roll can save your soul. In a New Statesman article, writer Paul Evans examines the history of the musician vs. the state and how music’s destabilizing force scared the bejeezus out of some leaders. It’s a quick, fact-filled read.

Here is an interesting quote from the article about how Nazi Germany feared American jazz:

Jazz was despised by Nazi Germany, which regarded its devotees as dangerous race traitors. An absurd set of regulations issued in 1940 shows that it was not only the culture of jazz, but its very rhythms that were regarded as dangerous. One decree read: “So-called jazz compositions may contain at the most 10 per cent 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.”

The article also discusses the strained relationship between composer Dmitiri Shostakovich and Mother Russia: the composer would not write propaganda music for the Soviets and was pretty much blackballed.

It’s not all high brow stuff either: In 1965, Israeli forces banned a performance by The Beatles fearing the band could galvanize teen-age immorality.

The fear of music is still strong in some parts of the world. Didn’t the Malaysian government ban Canadian pop star Avril Lavigne from performing in its country just a few weeks ago?

This may be the first time in history a blogger compared Avril Lavinge to the Shostakovich.

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One thought on “Why tyrants are afraid of the power of music

  1. emmettqaf on said:

    The middle east is full of this nonsense. Its a wonder why so many are investing in Saudi Arabia for instance…where woman aren’t allowed to perform. More interesting tidbits you ask, direct from our own embassy:

    http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1012.html

    “Women considering relocating to Saudi Arabia should be keenly aware that women and children residing in Saudi Arabia as members of a Saudi household (including adult American-citizen women married to Saudi men, adult American-citizen women who are the unmarried daughters of Saudi fathers, and American-citizen boys under the age of 21 who are the sons of Saudi fathers) are considered household property and require the permission of the Saudi male head of their household to leave the country. Married women require their husband’s permission to depart the country, while unmarried women and children require the permission of their father or male guardian. The U.S. Embassy can intercede with the Saudi government to request exit permission for an adult American woman (wife or daughter of a Saudi citizen), but there is no guarantee of success, or even of timely response. Mothers are not able to obtain permission for the departure of minor children without the father’s agreement.

    As of February 20, 2008, a new regulation went into effect requiring Saudi men seeking the mandatory permission from their government to marry foreign women to sign a binding document granting irrevocable permission for foreign born spouses and children of those foreign spouses to travel freely and unhindered in and out of Saudi Arabia. However, this regulation is not retroactive. Under Saudi law, women married to Saudi men prior to the effective date of these new regulations still need their husbands’ permission to leave Saudi Arabia, and their children still require their fathers’ permission to leave the country.”

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