Official Position Regarding Jazz Music; ca 1938
Click Here for Another Variation
DEPARTMENT OF POPULAR EDUCATION AND ART
Conditions Governing the Grant of Licenses for Dance Music
NEGROID: Belonging to a Negro race. This includes the African Negroes (and also those living outside of Africa), also Pygmies, Bushmen and Hottentots. NEGRITO: In the wider sense of the term, the short-statured, curly or frizzy-haired, dark-skinned inhabitants of Southeastern Asia, Melanesia and Central Africa.
1. Music: The Embargo on Negroid and Negrito Factors in dance Music and Music for Entertainments.
2. Introduction: The following regulations are intended to indicate the revival of the European spirit in the music played in this country for dances and amusements, by freeing the latter from the elements of that primitive Negroid and/or Negrito music, which may be justly regarded as being in flagrant conflict with the Europeon conception of music. These regulations constitute a transitory measure born of practical considerations and which must of necessity precede a general revival.
3. Prohibition: It is forbidden to play in public music which possesses to a marked degree characteristic features of the method of improvisation, execution, composition and arrangement adopted by Negroes and colored people. It is forbidden in publications, reports, programs, printed or verbal announcements, etc.:
Exceptions may Be permitted where such music is intended for a strictly scientific or strictly educational purpose and where such music is interpreted by persons having two or more Negroid or Negritic grandparents.
- (a) to describe music played or to be played with the words "jazz" or "jazz music."
- (b) to use the technical jargon described below, except in reference to or as a description of the instrumental and vocal dance music of the North American Negroes.
4. Descripton of The Main Characteristic Features of the Above-Mentioned Music which Differ from the European Conception of Music: The use of tonally undefined mordents, Ostentatious trills, double-stopping or ascendant glissandi, obtained in the Negro style by excessive vibrato, lip technique and/or shaking of the musical instrument. In jazz terminology, the effects known as "dinge," "smear" and "whip." Also the use of intentional vocalization of an instrumental tone by imitating a throaty sound. In jazz terminology, the adoption of the "growl" on brass wind instruments, and also the "scratchy" clarinet tone. Also the use of any intentional instrumentalization of the singing voice by substituting senseless syllables for the words in the text by "metalizing" the voice. In jazz terminology, so-called "scat" singing and the vocal imitation of brass wind instruments.
Also the use in Negro fashion of harshly timbered and harshly dynamic intonations unless already described. In jazz terminology, the use of "hot" intonations. Also the use in Negro fashion of dampers on brass and woodwind instruments in which the formation of the tone is achieved in solo items with more than the normal pressure. This does not apply to saxophones or trombones.
Likewise forbidden, in the melody, is any melody formed in the manner characteristic of Negro players, and which can be unmistakably recognized.
5. Expressly Forbidden: The adoption in Negro fashion of short motifs of exaggerated pitch and rhythm, repeated more than three times without interruption by a solo instrument (or soloist), or more than sixteen times in succession without interruption by a group of instruments played by a band. In jazz terminology, any adoption of "licks" and "riffs" repeated more than three times in succession by a soloist or more than sixteen times for one section or for two or more sections. Also the exaggeration of Negroid bass forms, based on the broken tritone. In jazz terminology, the "boogie-woogie," "honky tonk" or "barrelhouse" style.
6. Instruments Banned: Use of very primitive instruments such as the Cuban Negro "quijada" (jaw of a donkey) and the North American Negro "washboard." Also the use of rubber mutes (plungers) for wind brass instruments, the imitation of a throaty tone in the use of mutes which, whether accompanied by any special movement of the hand or not, effect an imitation of a nasal sound. In jazz terminology, use of "plungers" and "Wah Wah" dampers. The so-called "tone color" mutes may, however, be used.
Also the playing in Negro fashion of long, drawn-out percussion solos or an imitation thereof for more than two or four three-time beats, more frequently than three times or twice in the course of 32 successive beats in a complete interpretation. In jazz terminology, "stop choruses" by percussion instruments, except brass cymbals. There is no objection to providing a chorus with percussion solos in places where a break could also come, but at not more than three such places.
Also the use of a constant, long drawn-out exaggerated tonal emphasis on the second and fourth beats in 4/4 time. In jazz terminology, the use of the long drawn-out "off beat" effect.
Reprinted From "Jazz Cavalcade: The Inside Story of Jazz"
by Dave Dexter, Jr. Criterion Music Corp. 1946
Thank God These Bastards Lost!!
Return to the W.A.M.S. Home Page