Deutsche Nachkriegswochenschau - ein Blog von Sigrun Lehnert

Kontinuität, Modernisierung, Musik

Jazz between Politics and Modernity

Jazz House Music in NDW No. 590 from 19 May 1961

Jazz Performances in German Newsreels and Documentaries of the 1960s

Since the newsreels were the only source of news prior to the spread of the television, they had the power to shape the views on different lifestyles. Almost every report of a newsreel edition was accompanied by music, which fits perfectly to its visuals.

The music was also used to convey political messages, ideological meanings and national and international relations. The acceptance and rejection of musical styles is also evident through the use for the reports’ themes. While jazz in East Germany initially stood for decadence and an excessively permissive Western lifestyle, in the 1960s jazz obviously advanced to a style of music that was socially and politically accepted. In West Germany, jazz changed from the expression of an unbridled attitude to life to a musical style for connoisseurs.

Rarely did the newsreel commentator differentiate between the types of jazz. But the newsreel documented different forms of performances by musicians at several venues (fig. from NDW No. 590). Documentary films were mostly made to accompany concert tours or to portray artists, their bands and to highlight their own style. To what extent can such documentary films be described as artistic?

Which patterns as well as functions of the aesthetic elements of newsreels and documentary films in presenting concerts and musicians are conveyed? Furthermore, it should be highlighted which places (e.g. on ships, in churches, at home) and occasions were chosen for documenting jazz in its different meanings (e.g. modernity, solidarity, internationality).

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