We Will, We Will Rock You

Music was very limited to traditional norms in the 60s and early 70s. Songs were centered around the Soviet motherland and culture in a very routine way. Departures from the norm would not gain recognition by those in power, and occasionally minor deviations from traditional composition were ignored if the message remained Soviet-based. For example, David Tukhmanov’s “My Address is the Soviet Union” contained Soviet patriotism, so the electric guitar was ignored by higher ups (Seventeen Moments). In a Report of the Board of Russian Republic Composers’ Union to the Third Congress of Russian Republic Composers, the report discusses the “characteristics of the most interesting works” in which “Russia has always been a country with highly developed standards” (Report of the Board). The importance of stage genre was upheld within the article, leaning toward tradition instead of toward innovation.

Contemporary music departing from expectations were slow to move across the country, often smuggled between individuals on tape recorders or records. Soviet authorities would work to eradicate the invasion of “inappropriate,” western music from Soviet society, but the music would eventually capture the country’s youth.

j1952Tatyana Nazarenko: Dance Floor (1977)

While the Soviet Union resisted changes in musical norms, rock and roll was emerging in the west. The connection of the west to rock and roll would infiltrate Soviet society in 1973, leading Russian singers to sing rock songs in English, rather than Russian (Seventeen Moments). The influence of Andrei Makarevich, the lead singer of Time Machine, would change the face of western rock and roll to Soviet based music, relating to the Soviet Union and Soviet culture (Seventeen Moments). There is an identifiable contrast between Tukhmanov’s “My Address is the Soviet Union” and Makarevich’s “You or Me,” both released in 1973 (Seventeen Moments).

Innovation did not necessarily meet prace and the “press featured vitriolic attacks against the Western influence presented in rock music” (Editorial Roundtable Discussion). The infiltration of western influence, while criticized by many, was due to an expanding world. According to the “Editorial Roundtable Discussion,” “[t]he broadening of contacts with foreigners has intensified the exchange of information” (Editorial Roundtable Discussion). The discussion goes on to try and understand rock music and interpret the societal impacts of the music.

The rave of rock music peaked in 1987 when Billy Joel went to Moscow. He was one of the first American rock artists to perform in the Soviet Union since the construction of the Berlin Wall. The crowd at the show in Moscow had never experienced a show like the one before them, but the excitement and energy of the show would ignite rock and roll passion within Soviet youth (To see the show, here is a link to the performance). The controversy of the event was seen in the bright lights used during the show. The crowd would freeze under spotlight, fearing action would be taken against them.

The transition of Soviet music to mainstream rock and roll was gradual, but the ease to transfer information across the country, and across the world, would open the door to exchange thoughts, art, music, and ideas around the globe. The continuing technological advancements in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s have resulted in nearly instantaneous communication. The worlds of individual cultures unaffected by popular fads in other countries was officially a thing of the past.

 

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Joel#Trip_to_the_Soviet_Union

http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1973rock&Year=1973

http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=article&ArticleID=1973sots1&SubjectID=1973rock&Year=1973

http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&show=music&SubjectID=1973rock&Year=1973&navi=byYear

http://dlib.eastview.com.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu:8080/searchresults/article.jsp?art=0&id=13644135