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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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Jazz Harmony from the Perspective of the Most Important Czech, Slovakian and International Theorists

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Abstract: Two American publications, the 1947 Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns by Nicolas Slonimsky and, more particularly, George Russell’s 1953 Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, significantly influenced the formation of modal jazz and the harmonic language of the post-bop era musicians. The chord-scale theory, which was codified by Russell, has today become a widespread method of teaching jazz improvisation. In the environment behind the iron curtain, Czech and Slovak artists had available only a few but very useful publications (by domestic authors such as Karel Velebný, Milan Šolc, and Luboš Andršt); they managed to bridge the abysmal gap between the official educational opportunities in Czechoslovakia and those available in the West. This contribution offers a closer look at the most significant works in the field of jazz harmony and their influence on the current harmonic language of jazz.

Keywords: Czechoslovakia; Slovakia; jazz; jazz theory; music theory; Karel Velebný; Milan Svoboda

The Situation in Czechoslovak Jazz Prior to 1989. Before 1989, many Czechoslovak jazz musicians continued the genre’s global development and, at the same time, extended the inspiration of the American jazz greats. However, influential interactions were also occurring amongst European jazz artists.1 Jazzmen in Czechoslovakia had a domestic audience which not only perceived their works as part of the artistic opposition against the communist regime, but also as refreshing music from the West. In this way, some jazz artists managed to create their own musical language. After the fall of the...

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