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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 2, No. 11. June 21, 1939

Modern Jazz — A Symposium

Modern Jazz

A Symposium

"Salient" presents for its readers' consideration the opinions on jazz of several well-as lesser-known figures in the Wellington musical world. We are fortunate in having Madame [unclear: Lotte] Lehmann as our principal personality, and her wold-wide reputation and outstanding ability as singer make her ideas on this subject, if not valuable, at least most interesting. "Salient's" thanks are [unclear: due] to Madame Lehmann and to the others who have give interviews for our reporter when gathering material for this symposium.

The term jazz is a wide one and cover a very broad field of music and there was therefore a need to define the term in some way before starting out to discuss it. The under-starting out to discuss it. The understanding of the subject which was used as the basis of this, was all that body of modern music included between the more serious works of Constant Lambert to that combination of sounds to which the "Jitterbug" performs its antics. It has "Rio Grande" or "Rhapsody in Blue" at one extreme and "Tiger Rag" at the other. It includes the better music of the modern Jazz orchestra us well as the discordant syncopation of our low dance halls.

It is wide, perhaps too wide, but to narrow the field would mean that some forms that are definitely modern innovations in music and therefore legitimately Jazz would have to he omitted and this would tend to diminish the interest of such a symposium as this.

As a means of synthesising material, a set of four questions was used as the framework. These questions do not attempt to cover the whole Held—it contains too much material for that—but It is hoped that they are sufficiently well chosen to cover the principal points of interest in jazz.

The first and perhaps the most important question:—

Do you think that Jazz is a Legitimate Art-form?

Lotte Lehmann: I believe It is a form of musical expression—whether it is legitimate depends largely on the individual.

Country Church Organist: Certainly not. It's a lot of rubbish.

Dick Hutchens: Yes; it hasn't the depth of classical music but it is quite as much an art-form.

Mr. de Maunay, leader of the Wellington Symphony Orchestra: No. It's only attraction, its monotonous rhythm, appeals to the lower musical taste and is not truly artistic.

[unclear: Budolf,] Jazz orchestra leader: Yes, certainty it is.

Mr. Paul Schramm, noted pianist: Yes, I love Jazz. It is new and it is all right. We all like it, but some are too highbrow to say so.

Dr. A. C. Keys, W.E.A., lecturer on expression of the composer's feelings as is the work of beethove.. Heine or Shakespeare ... it appeals to the senses rather than the emotions.

Mr. Alan Shand, professional teacher of Jazz musical instruments: Yes, I do. It is not easy to play and require study. It is a different branch in music, but is an art-form quite apart from other music.

Mr. Gordon Short, teacher of the piano: It is not a true art-form but a means of stimulating physical movement. It is too specialised to be a true art-form; it is rather a form of rhythmical self-expression.

A "Man in the Street": I don't know. What is art? I suppose it's as much art as the paintings they turn out and call art now-a-days.

Mr. Johannes C. Andersen, writer of an authoritative book on Maori music: Yes, but It is purely temporary. It expresses unenduring and therefore not the best moods.

Department St[gap — reason: illegible] Girl, sings jazz as a hobby: Yes. [unclear: sure] it is. I get a lot of fun out of jazz.

Varsity Student (male): If you in[unclear: clude] bag-pipe music with your other [unclear: music]-art-forms, then sure—jazz is legitimate.

Female of the Species: Yes, definitely—Ha cha cha!

Mr. Young, lecturer in music at the Teachers' Training College: It is as legitimate an art-form as the detective novel is a legitimate literary form. As there are good and had thrillers, so there is good and had jazz.

Dr. John Beaglehole: I am a little suspicious of the bar-sinister in Jazz—it is probably not form at all but trimming.

Do you think that one can really appreciate and enjoy both Jazz and "Classical" Music?

Here "classical" is used in the corrupted sense of everyday speech, as all that in looked upon as "heavy" music, of the concert chamber rather than the dance hall or school concert.

Lotte Lehmann: I demand excellence in technique, theme and presentation of any musical form whether It is classical jazz, or crooning. I appreciate and thoroughly enjoy lighter music If It measures up to this standard.

Mr. de [unclear: Maunay]: There are some people who can enjoy both.—I can't.

Jazz Planist: plays in a band: Yes quite possible. There is more in classical music and it needs more listening to.

Country Organist: Some people reckon they can. I can't see anything in the silly negro stuff.

The Man in the Street: No. Anybody who reckons they enjoy that dull classical stuff is just nuts or a damn liar. Everyone can enjoy Jazz

His Wife: I Just love music and enjoy both. I like jazz for preference, all the same.

Rudolf: I think so. The music lover won't enjoy really "hot" jazz, but will like Jazz well played with good melody and rhythm.

Dept. Star Girl: Certainly, there's a time and place for everything. I don't enjoy classical music because I can't understand it.

Mr. Young: Yes, but he who appreciates good music will only enjoy good Jazz.

Dr. Beaglehole: Why not? Jazz well done is a damn sight belter than classical music sloppily done.

Johannes Andersen: Yes, but jazz palls quickly. Classical music does not appeal easily and quickly but has a profounder appeal. Jazz has little originality; you want to forget it, but not so classical music.

Gordon Short: Yes, I do. I enjoy a performance of good jazz.

Alan Shand: Yes, the two are the same in that they both need training for their appreciation.

Paul Schramm: Yes, Jazz is the classical music of to-day. It is new but good, and should not he put aside. Do you think that Jazz is an Expression of any Shallowness or the present age? if so is it a cause or an effect of this tendency?

Mr. de Maunay: Yes, It is a carryover of the necessary artificial and superficial spirit of gaiety of the war, and still exists as the superficial outlet of the high-tension lives of modem people. It is an effect.

Jazz [unclear: Pianist]: No: it suits the young people or to-day and I don't think they are any more shallow than any other generation of young people.

Country Organist: Yes, the young people to-day want too much pleasure and Jazz is a cause of this.

Dr. Beaglehole: Jazz, like neon-lighting or religion, is a social manifestation.

Johannes Andersen: It expresses something very shallow, but whether this is typical of the present age as a cause and an effect I don't know.

Rudolf: It doesn't express any shallowness. Jazz orchestration is Just as hard as any other.

Dick Hutchens: People are too lazy to think now-a-days. It is an expression or this laziness and an effect or prevailing shallowness.

Alan Shand: As in every other age it is the popular music that expresses young people's attitudes it expresses no shallowness.

Varsity Student (male): Yes, it expresses modern shallowness and is both cause and effect.

Paul Schramm: it is the natural expression or the present age. There is some "hot" Jazz that goes a bit tar, but generally it is no more shallow than any other folk music.

Dept. Store Girl: I don't think so. It expresses something very clever.

Mr. Young: We should all "come to the surface" and enjoy Jazz but there is a tendency today to live and die in the froth and Jazz panders to this.

The Man in the Street: No fear. You can get jazz in all moods, [gap — reason: illegible]me. There's nothing shallow about it. The ordinary people haven't had a form of music before but they've got it in Jazz and it expresses all their feelings. Just look—"Today I am so happy." and "I despair for joy

Has jazz in your opinion any detrimental effect upon the general musical taste throughout the community?

Lotte Lehinann: Throughout my world-tour I have been impressed by the increased interest and understanding of good music, which suggests that jazz has not lowered it.

Mr. de Maunay: It is a debased form of art and is pumped out so much by the [unclear: radio] that it must have a detrimental effect.

Gordon Short: Not a bit. Jazz as a stepping stone in [unclear: better] music. It has the same elements in a less varied from.

Dept. Store Girl: Yes, Jazz is really a lot of slapdash.

The Man in the Street: No fear. It's the only real form of music; It's not a clever Intellectual game like listening to classical music.

Jazz Pianist: No; [unclear: those] who like jazz wouldn't enjoy [unclear: classical] music even If they couldn't gel Jazz.

Mr. Young: It has a detrimental effect in that many people who could appreciate better music steep themselves in Jazz and don't go any further.

Johannes Andersen: It has no permanent detrimental effect, only temporary distraction.

Dick Hutchens: Yes, It is too easy to understand: it has nothing to provoke thought.

Alan Shand: in some hands it will be done to death anil will have a bad effect, but not so in the hands of a trained musician.

Country Organist: It certainly has, it has taken musical taste away. Why learn music when you can pick up a jazz tune?

Paul Schramm: Jazz hasn't but these "this" have, as they've done all through the ages.

Varsity Student (female) : Yes, It would quite likely.

Varsity Student (male): No, It gives a grade of musical taste to some who would have none otherwise.

The official attitude or "Salient" was admirably epitomised by Professor Gordon, who when asked what he thought of Jazz, replied:—

"I think It's bloody awful."