But maybe the single most remarkable example of 20th-century totalitarian invective against jazz that Skvorecky ever relayed was here in the intro to The Bass Saxophone, where he recalls -- faithfully, he assures us ("they had engraved themselves deeply on my mind") -- a set of regulations, issued by a Gauleiter -- a regional official for the Reich -- as binding on all local dance orchestras during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Get this:
- Pieces in foxtrot rhythm (so-called swing) are not to exceed 20% of the repertoires of light orchestras and dance bands;
- in this so-called jazz type repertoire, preference is to be given to compositions in a major key and to lyrics expressing joy in life rather than Jewishly gloomy lyrics;
- As to tempo, preference is also to be given to brisk compositions over slow ones so-called blues); however, the pace must not exceed a certain degree of allegro, commensurate with the Aryan sense of discipline and moderation. On no account will Negroid excesses in tempo (so-called hot jazz) or in solo performances (so-called breaks) be tolerated;
- so-called jazz compositions may contain at most 10% syncopation; the remainder must consist of a natural legato movement devoid of the hysterical rhythmic reverses characteristic of the barbarian races and conductive to dark instincts alien to the German people (so-called riffs);
- strictly prohibited is the use of instruments alien to the German spirit (so-called cowbells, flexatone, brushes, etc.) as well as all mutes which turn the noble sound of wind and brass instruments into a Jewish-Freemasonic yowl (so-called wa-wa, hat, etc.);
- also prohibited are so-called drum breaks longer than half a bar in four-quarter beat (except in stylized military marches);
- the double bass must be played solely with the bow in so-called jazz compositions;
- plucking of the 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, strict care must be taken lest the string be allowed to patter on the sordine, which is henceforth forbidden;
- musicians are likewise forbidden to make vocal improvisations (so-called scat);
- all light orchestras and dance bands are advised to restrict the use of saxophones of all keys and to substitute for them the violin-cello, the viola or possibly a suitable folk instrument.
Being a Nazi, this public servant obviously didn't miss an opportunity to couch as many of these regulations as he could in racist or anti-Semitic terms. Such, after all, are the National Socialist equivalent of soothing conventional wisdom.
Exhibit B: Meanwhile, back in The States, "Regulations posted in Lansing, Michigan dance halls around 1920 made explicit the fears that the new dances and new morals of the post-war decade could lead to sexual license":
RULES AND REGULATIONS FOR PUBLIC DANCE HALLS
- No shadow or spotlight dances allowed.
- Moonlight dances not allowed where a single light is used to illuminate the Hall. Lights must be shaded to give Hall dimmed illuminated effect.
- All unnecessary shoulder or body movement or gratusque dances positively prohibited.
- Pivot reverse and running on the floor prohibited.
- All unnecessary hesitation, rocking from one foot to the other and see-sawing back and forth of the dancers will be prohibited.
- No loud talking, undue familiarity or suggestive remarks unbecoming any lady or gentleman will be tolerated.POSITION OF DANCERS
- Right hand of gentleman must not be placed below the waist nor over the shoulder nor around the lady's neck, nor lady's left arm around gentleman's neck. Lady's right hand and gentleman's left hand clasped and extended at least six inches from the body, and must not be folded and lay across the chest of dancers.
- Heads of dancers must not Touch.MUSIC
No beating of drum to produce Jazz effect will be allowed.
Any and all persons violating any of these rules will be subject to expulsion from the hall, also arrest for disorderly conduct.By Order of
CHIEF OF POLICE