Negro music

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Brochure for the exhibition Degenerate Music (1938)

Negro music is a derogatory expression for the music styles influenced by African American people such as blues and jazz . Based on this, rock 'n' roll was also called that in the 1950s . The expression was also used more rarely for the indigenous musical styles of black Africans .

National Socialism

In Germany at the time of the Weimar Republic , Ernst Krenek's opera Jonny plays , which contained musical borrowings from jazz, was made a scandalous piece by protest actions from the folk- nationalist environment as early as 1927 . The American musician Henry Cowell interpreted jazz as a mixture of Afro-American and Jewish elements in Melos magazine in 1930 : “The basics of jazz are the syncopation and rhythmic accents of the negroes . Its modernization is the work of New York Jews […] Jazz is black music seen through the eyes of these Jews.“Such points of view were willingly taken up by the National Socialists . Her points of criticism included the "senseless use of syncopation ", the " drum orgies", "artistic indecency", "slobbering and sloppiness in musical expression" and the "indecent dance forms" to the denigration of modern music as "the political weapon of the Jews ". As early as 1930, the Thuringian minister of education and the interior, the National Socialist Wilhelm Frick , published a decree against the Negro culture for German nationality.

In 1932, the Reich government under Franz von Papen initiated a ban on black musicians from appearing, and in 1935 the Reich broadcasting director Eugen Hadamovsky issued the “final ban on nigger jazz for all of German radio”.

The exhibition Degenerate Music , organized by the National Socialists in 1938 , put the blanket racist defamation of contemporary American music as "Negro music" into the picture with the title page of the accompanying brochure, which showed a malicious caricature of a black man playing the saxophone .

post war period

Ever since the racially derogatory and hurtful dimension of the term " negro " was worked out in the 1950s and 1960s , terms that contain the term have been in conflict with the conventions of anti-discriminatory language usage . In the 1950s, churches, school authorities and politicians in particular were warning against “obscene negro music”, when rock 'n' roll became particularly popular among young people. With this use of the derogatory term, which continued into the 1960s and which was now related to contemporary rock music , not only persisted racist resentments but also the contemporary generation conflict emerged in the “aggressive defense against the new youth culture”.


  • Nanny Drechsler: The Function of Music in German Radio 1933–1945 . Centaurus, Pfaffenweiler 1988, ISBN 3-89085-169-X (dissertation at the University of Freiburg).
  • Bernd Polster : "Swing Heil", jazz under National Socialism . Transit, Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-88747-050-8 .
  • Heribert Schröder: On the continuity of National Socialist measures against jazz and swing in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich . In the S. (Ed.): Colloquium: Festschrift Martin Vogel for his 65th birthday . Schröder, Bad Honnef 1988, ISBN 3-926196-08-4 .
  • Robert Stevenson: The Afro-American Musical Legacy to 1800 . In: The Musical Quarterly . Vol. 54, No. 4 (October 1968), pp. 475-502.
  • Joseph Wulf : Music in the Third Reich: A Documentation . Mohn, Gütersloh 1963, ISBN 3-550-07059-4 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Negro music  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Bernd Polster: "Swing Heil", Jazz in National Socialism . Berlin 1989, p. 9.
  2. ^ Joseph Wulf : Music in the Third Reich - A Documentation . Gütersloh 1963, p. 350.
  3. ^ Nanny Drechsler: The function of music in German radio 1933-1945 . Pfaffenweiler 1988, p. 126.
  4. ^ Joseph Wulf: Music in the Third Reich - A Documentation. Gütersloh 1963, p. 353.
  5. Heribert Schröder: On the continuity of National Socialist measures against jazz and swing in the Weimar Republic and in the Third Reich . Bad Honnef 1988, p. 176.
  6. Heribert Schröder: On the continuity of National Socialist measures against jazz and swing in the Weimar Republic and in the Third Reich . Bad Honnef 1988, p. 179.
  7. Marko Ikonic, Michael Boldhaus: Forbidden in the Third Reich - Degenerate Music, Part 1 . On from April 18, 2003.
  8. Grada Kilomba: The N-Word | bpb. Retrieved September 19, 2019 .
  9. Martin Schäfer: Millions of Elvis fans cannot be wrong ( Memento from December 24, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 26 kB) . In: Gazette , media magazine of the SSM, ZDB -ID 2075992-7 .
  10. Hubert Kleinert: Myth 1968 . On March 19, 2008 bbp .