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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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