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Popular Music in Communist and Post-Communist Europe

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Edited By Jan Blüml, Yvetta Kajanová and Rüdiger Ritter

Through selected topics, the book presents an up-to-date and comprehensive view of the popular music of communist and post-communist Europe. The studies introduce new sources, discuss transformations of the institutional background of popular music of the given geopolitical sphere, its social, cultural-political, or artistic conditions. Thanks to the time span of nearly thirty years since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the authors have in many ways revised or supplemented traditional post-communist perceptions of the issues in question. This is being done with respect to the genres such as jazz, rock, pop, singer-songwriters, hip-hop, or White Power Music, as well as across the whole region from the former Yugoslavia through Central European states to the countries of the former Soviet Union.

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Researching Jazz in Socialist Countries

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Abstract: This chapter discusses new approaches to research on jazz in former socialist countries. The archives are now open, young researchers can begin, but there is still a lack of methodology. Subsuming jazz under the broad category of popular music is not sufficient. A methodology for jazz research has to begin with the very nature of this music. There is a need to combine music- and society-related research as well in order to understand the music and its role in society. In this perspective, jazz in socialist countries is no longer an exotic specialty, but one of the many varieties in which jazz can be part of society in the world.

Keywords: jazz; research; socialist countries; methodology

A Neglected Research Field to Explore: Jazz in Socialist Countries. During the early period of the Cold War, the pure existence of jazz or at least jazz-related music in the Eastern Bloc was no more than an exciting rumour in Western eyes. The discovery of interesting jazz musicians was labelled as a sensation, confronting this with the wide-spread prejudice, that the entire jazz phenomenon was strictly forbidden in socialist countries. This was not the case, however, not even in Stalinist times when jazz disappeared from the public scene, but continued its existence in private, nonofficial niches. Due to this image, jazz music and jazz musicians from the Eastern Bloc were perceived as figures of opposition, as examples of heroism and the fight for freedom, etc.1

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