Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Every big movement touches every corner of the world eventually, it didn’t reach the Soviet Union that fast, but punk certainly found a home in the youth of that place in the late 70s. At the moment there were two choices to go with be disco or be punk.

The obvious choice for most young people was punk since there was message that was deeply understood given the context of the Soviet Union, an that was a message of

Although the nascent Soviet Punk movement took on the ideals of the English scene, it moved toward the harsh intensity of the Washington D.C. hardcore/straightedge scene. The movement of Soviet Punk toward hardcore came as a reflection of the physical and political environment, incorporation of distinct instrumentation, and adoption of distinct hardcore values (such as abstention from alcohol).

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It was made a movement by soviet union that resonated with the political state in which they were at the time, while it was at a personal level, the punk movement was also a political one.

The political history most relevant to the punk movement in the Soviet Union began with the Stalinist era, continuing through to the stagnation era of Leonid Brezhnev. Throughout this period, the political and societal structure crafted by Iosif Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, and Leonid Brezhnev provided the framework on which the punk movement revolted. It furthermore contributed to the development of the protopunk subculture of the late 1970s era called the “unclassifiables

Grazhdanskaya Oborona, Soviet Punk

One of those punk bands was Grazhdanskaya Oborona, a band that formed in the early 80s and can be a good example as a Soviet Union punk band that showed the world a moral of the youth that was not very happy with how things were. The mother of the second guitarrist even thought that the band was an anti soviet movement and went to the KGB to report them.

The band leader Yegor Letov, was drafted despite having heart conditions, and it wasn’t until 1986 that he was released, at this time he went straight back to making music and record.

There are clear influences of other punk bands from the US and the UK but at the same time there is a heavy rythm and a strange voice that goes from clean singing to a raw scream like singing.

They also made some compositions a bit more melodic and more “traditional” in a way. That is not to say that punk was traditional, but the sense as we know the most famous bands. To many people

Alexei Borisov

Alexei Borisov a specialist on the subject said in an interview:

Even if the codes of punk and post-punk were introduced very late in the Soviet Union, the impact of punk on musicians and listeners was huge. A young generation raised on original, refined classical music and a usually very simple, banal pop or jazz-rock in official broadcasts and official art production were suddenly stepping inside this new world with the charm of the word “forbidden” written on the door (and most likely some hidden efforts from West). However, they were unaware that they were moving towards a sensation that would once again surpass the West.

Alexei Borisov

soviet

In the end it’s important to give some time to research about those places and music that have quite a strong history but you wouldn’t really think about. Soviet punk is a very strong case, where the nature of it was very agressive sometimes, but in the end it was a very pure and honest way to make art.

This is just another example of how music is a universal language, but also a language that changes and adapts.

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A musician is a performer, and usually a performer is in some way an actor, there is a show that has to be given to an audience, but no one is born super confident, and it’s no secret that playing in front of a large crowd is an obvious reason to be nervous, insecure and even scared.

Confidence

Of course if you are a cello player in a big orchestra, you may feel like the attention is not that focused in you but in the whole group of people playing, and even if you do feel nervous, it’s hard for the crowd to notice.

Things get a little bit scarier in a quartet or a piano performance, since there are not that many many instruments and musicians, the crowd can see what is happening with the few that are there, however, the crowd doesn’t really expect the performer to do crazy stunts, scream at the crowd or be extra confident, they are there, for a good performance in terms of musical prowess.

However there is a certain kind of magic that happens when you let yourself go, there should be a more clear way of putting it, but as a musician lets himself go, everything changes, body language changes, the performance itself becomes more captivating and fewer mistakes are made because of the lack of nervousness that makes a performer hesitate or doubt. This can happen in any genre of music, but it’s most notable in Jazz, Blues and Rock, as history has shown.

Moments such Elvis Presley dancing like crazy while singing, Jimmy Hendrix playing the guitar with his teeth, the alien energy of Chuck Berry or drug like magic of Charlie Parker and even the many times Kurt Cobain just jumped towards the drums, are some examples of this “letting go” experience a musician goes through when they let confidence take over.

Confidence in Experience

There is a very good article on the importance of confidence in music that shows a special session with Victor Wooten and how he encourages musicians to embrace their own unique styles.

I don’t remember details but at some point, the conversation came to whether the students in the room felt like they were “good” at their instruments or not. A lot of students said no. I think it’s because they didn’t want to come across as “arrogant”. Wooten countered that. He made a point that I will never forget: he said whenever someone asks you if you’re good at guitar, your answer should always be “yes”. He said it’s not arrogant to do so. Remember, you’re not saying you’re the greatest or anything, all you’re saying is you’re good. And who’s to say you’re not? Even if you only know one scale, there are so many great things you can do with that. Or, so what if you can’t sweep pick just yet — who said that’s the only style of playing? If you keep telling yourself and others that you’re not good, the only person you’re harming is you! Constantly downplaying your ability and constantly doubting yourself will make you not want to pick up the guitar ever again. And when you don’t play, that’s when you stop getting good! He didn’t say all these things, but even his first comment made me think of all these thoughts. I figured it was time to stop making excuses and telling myself I wasn’t ever going to get “good”. I realized I already knew quite a bit, and I was going to use that as my foundation and keep building.

Alper Memioglu

The point here is that confidence begins by understanding that everyone has their own style, and that if a musician doesn’t trust in his own ability to play and get better, no one else will. Music is a language and if confidence is what is being put out there, the people who listen will get it.

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One thing is the origin of a specific genre of music and another is its crowd or audience, which have the big cultural repercussions on their hands, as it happened with rock.

There is a need to make this particular difference because there are indeed too many genres of music to remember, there are so many ramifications and small variants at this point that many people just say that they listen about everything to avoid getting into a very boring and complex subject of labels and names.

However there is just not an audience for each genre of music that exists out there; if we take the word “audience” as a group of peoplethat listens to a type of music, we should also add to it the power of cultural movements and change.

According to Jordy Cummings:

The important distinction, thus, to make, when gauging the origin of a specific cultural form is not merely the origin of the form itself, but the origin of its audience, which can roughly be dated to 1955 and 1956, the years of “Tutti Frutti”, “Heartbreak Hotel”, and “Blue Suede Shoes”. This audience exponentially grew in the fifties, among young men and women, among white people and people of colour, largely due to the advent and mass-availability of television sets, ‘Hi-Fi’ systems, and the growth of music-oriented radio stations along with radio ‘personalities’.

Forces of Chaos and Anarchy: Rock Music, The New Left and Social Movements, 1964 to 1972, Jordy Cummings

The Message

Audience

Rock adn Roll delivered a very simple message, it was one of autencity and rebellion against the suit and tie. At the time the world was steering towards a well oiled modern machine with the boom of media, advertising and technological advancement. For many people it was easy to find themselves in this sort of sentiment, and it spread fast and easy.

This was a message in a bottled that was then carried by the hands of bands like “The Beatles” to “Nirvana” and now artists like ” Jack White” and “Josh Homme” from “Queens of the Stone Age”.

The message is still the same, even though the eviroment has changed the establishment will always close doors and the counterculture will find their way to break its windows.

In and Out

While the rock audience used to strongly represent the counterculture, there is now a more of a gray area, since everything that has a strong enough impact is a money maker, this happened with rock as well.

As established entertainment conglomerates took over rock and roll and created its own star system, the means with which one could be unique depended far more on self-marketing, mystique and virtuosity. Or it could just as well mean being buddies with people at the major labels, hippies turned hip capitalists. Rock criticism, as form, started out in the“underground press”, including the newspapers of the far-Left, with smatterings of material in the journals of the intelligentsia, notably the New Yorker.

Forces of Chaos and Anarchy: Rock Music, The New Left and Social Movements, 1964 to 1972, Jordy Cummings

It’s actually a bit strange because the nature of what makes rock what it is, revolves around the fact that it’s all about going against the establishment in some way, that “I don’t care attitude” and making music just for the sake of playing, however with such a big audience it’s hard for it not to be mainstream sometimes. With bands such as “The Beatles”, “Nirvana”, “Metallica”, or “Queen” there is a very underground beginning which ended in them being extremely famous, but there are some layers to this fame.

Different Rock Audience

After the sixties, began a transition, which in turn changed the audience.

At its best, this transitional form led to real sonic inventiveness, even sometimes the use of traditional folk instrumentation alongside a rock rhythm section, other times predominantly covering other artists and quite literally superimposing Dylan with the Beatles, as was the case with the Byrds. In England, this took the form, for The Kinks in particular, of incorporating music-hall and vaudeville type songwriting.

Forces of Chaos and Anarchy: Rock Music, The New Left and Social Movements, 1964 to 1972, Jordy Cummings

Rock also began to be a middle ground between all other genres, due to its flexibility an incredible amount of sub genres began to appear, but there was always the “rock” part of it alive in every single one.

As for the rock audience, they may very well be just people that want to enjoy something real, something that screams from inside and resonates with passionate locked ideas and inspire them to keep going, to be more specific is impossible after the 60s and 70s.

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