[Dixielandjazz] Dadaism and jazz
a.crouch at unsw.edu.au
Thu May 29 20:21:38 PDT 2003
My references to Wolpe and the Bauhaus were a tongue-in-cheek attempt to
flush out some some architectural opinions on music in general and jazz in
particular. Who said "architecture is frozen music"? (a real question, not
a rhetorical one). Also, remember that quite a few architectural terms are
also commonly applied to music (eg baroque and rococo).
A rambling discussion follows - please DELETE now if you don't have any
sympathy for such excursions.
The challenge, put to me off-list, is to find a link between dadaism and
discography. At the risk of causing near apoplexy in some quarters, here goes:
The Dada movement was a European phenomenon, intended to offend against
traditional aesthetic standards.
The Dada movement (approx. 1915 to 1922) spans the emergence of jazz on
record and the start of the classic period.
Remember what the critics said about the ODJB when they first played in New
While the Americans were playing jazz and enjoying themselves, the
Europeans (particularly the French) were analysing jazz and enjoying
Conclusion, so far: for the Europeans, jazz was a Dadaist phenomenon.
Intellectuals see something that is real and then set to work to see if it
can exist in theory. Collecting data is a good way to start, although some
sociologists would eschew such rigorous and time-consuming effort.
1936 - the invention of jazz discography, by Charles Delaunay (in France)
and Hilton Schleman (in England). The idea was revolutionary because it
recognised that jazz is a performance art in which recordings are more
important than scores.
The Americans continued to play, listen to, and dance to jazz and only got
'round to discography in the late 1940s (Orin Blackstone). The Europeans
continued to be serious about jazz.
Conclusion 1: there is a link between Dadaism and discography.
Conclusion 2: the "is" of conclusion 1 should be "was" - discography is now
mainstream and jazz wouldn't attract even a sideways glance from would-be
I'd even go further and say that Dadaism is presently impossible - how
would we recognise it in the post-modern morass that passes for reality?
All the best
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