The significance of US music diplomacy in the USSR is that it offers a typical reflection of comforting, warm, and brilliant instances as opposed to the hostile realities of military activities and hardball diplomacy. The US federal department’s culture presentations program funded various musicians from America to travel to several USSR countries across the world during the Cold war where they performed and enhanced the prestige of the American traditions (Pieper, 2017). Therefore, Musical diplomacy provided audiences with an opportunity to witness America’s changing race relations, the kindness towards other persons, and excellent talents as well as reshaping democracy image globally by easing the political tensions.
The purpose of this case study is to examine US Music Diplomacy in the USSR
As stated above, the purpose of this case study is to examine US Music Diplomacy in the USSR. The purpose will be achieved by answering two main research questions. First, I will describe why America chose to use musical diplomacy during the Cold War as a tool to foster its soft power. Secondly, I will discuss how the United States used musical diplomacy as a forum for addressing the cultural diplomacy actions of the USSR.
More than 50 years ago, at the height of the Cold War, there was little room for intercultural dialogue, and the two superpowers sought to bridge the gap. In this battle for the "hearts and minds" of the peoples of the world, the United States opted for an improbable but extremely effective response to Soviet initiatives: the building of international friendships through jazz. European states were giving up their dominions in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific, and an almost savage contest was developing between the Soviet Union and the United States to court these newly independent nations (Cull, 2009). It opened the door to the idea that cultural exchanges between nations influenced the perception of "race" and culture, not only abroad, but also internally. Intercultural contacts were believed to shape attitudes, influence beliefs in internal political systems, and help understand the eyes with which a nation interprets the world. Moreover, the culture of a nation in itself helped to predict the attitudes and practices it would adopt in foreign affairs (Davenport, 2009). Jazz was an incomparable phenomenon in and for America, representative of a fusion between African cultures and the brand new African-American culture sprinkled and mixed by the American way of life.
The USSR found in culture a great vehicle to carry out its attempts, especially through music and classical ballet. In this battle for the "hearts and minds" of the peoples of the world, the United States opted for an improbable but extremely effective response to Soviet initiatives: the building of international friendships through jazz. Jazz musicians were the ideal postcard to send to the eyes and ears of the world, foisting a certain America and spreading its capitalist and democratic brand while relieving political tensions in the midst of Cold War orthodoxies by sharing this common experience, social and cultural, conveyed by jazz (Lynskey, 2011). Jazz diplomacy, a kind of democratic art, sought to end myths such as that of an America representative of "white supremacy", cultural imperialism, and racial arrogance, at a time when the international discourse on rights was beginning to be constructed civil rights, discrimination, and cultural liberty.
The current study aims to establish why America chose to use musical diplomacy during the Cold War as a tool to foster its soft power. Additionally, the study intends to establish the manner in which the United States used musical diplomacy as a forum for addressing the cultural diplomacy actions of the USSR.
Musical diplomacy was used as a tool for global diplomacy that played an essential role in changing the superpower relations during the period of the Cold War, which was performed in the Soviet Union, as well as other nations of the world (Pieper, 2017). The reason for using the musical style is due to the notion that musical performance is an ideal method for winning not just the hearts but also the minds, which in most instances, transcended strategic and economic priorities.
For this study, I will choose the case study design for this proposed study. The advantage of using the case study design is a case study is distinguishable by the identification of boundaries, modification of occurrences, depth, and context. An exploratory study system will be incorporated as well. This is a great way of establishing what is taking place while seeking new insights, asking questions, and evaluating phenomena in better ways (Saunders et al. 2013).
Regarding the Westphalian system of sovereign nation-states to the globalized world that is currently in place today, the international order has gone through several phases. The complexity of understanding the world’s dynamics is exemplified by the multiplicity of international relations theories. The two opposing main theories in international relations are realism and liberalism (Quenaud, 2010). Realists are of the opinion that international relations are inherently conflictive and ultimately lead to war. On the other hand, liberals view international relations as cooperative. The implementation of musical diplomacy in U.S foreign policy today indicated that the United States was not prioritizing national interests over moral choice. Liberalism is of the opinion that international relations are not necessarily conflictual but can be enhanced through international cooperation.
The "purity of Soviet art" was being polluted as Variety, the Times, Vanity Fair reported the influence of jazz in the USSR, and even Moscow Radio did not resist the sonic charms of this musical genre. Jazz music opened the door to a certain understanding of American culture - a free nation with no racial distinctions - and turned out to be a unique way of connecting people, transcending political and social barriers (Simonyi, 2003). The goal was to present jazz as the friendly face of American culture and synonymous with freedom the exhibition thus includes a rosary of no less historical snapshots by the portrayed characters and the unsuspected situations. In this struggle to win the admiration of other nations - by spreading abroad the soft power, power of attraction, or soft power that all power aspires to reach in its courtship to the world - the Americans sent hundreds of musicians for more than two decades from jazz to countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the USSR itself.
During the last three decades of the Soviet Union, both the communist giant and the countries of Eastern Europe were exposed to a constant cultural offensive through rock -complemented also with other musical styles- from the United States and its allies European The slow trickle that could have implied the permeation of the Soviet culture and structure was vital in that confrontation that was also taking place - and in what way - on the ideological and cultural level. It is clear that no country in the Eastern bloc fell because of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, or Bruce Springsteen (Von, 2004). However, they were decisive actors when establishing links between those two worlds. They acted as letters of introduction to try to break the idea of the decadent and dangerous capitalist world with which it was insisted from Moscow and its allies - a message practically identical to the one used to define the communist bloc in the west - and in the end they were a powerful tool of seduction and, above all, to open new cultural and political perspectives.
Explanation and Analysis
This interaction of the musicians especially outside the stages, integrating with the people, with the people in the streets and squares, made this the most successful program of American public diplomacy of all time. It was possible to promote a positive image of the United States at a crucial moment when the tensions of the Cold War were at their height. In addition, many of the non-aligned countries -but in one way or another felt pressured by the two powers-, welcomed the visits, and the main thing, they knew how to win over those young people, who never imagined seeing their idols in person. Jazz was at its height during the Cold War. Soviet citizens were already fed up with the Kremlin forbidding them to approach the customs and products promoted by capitalism. Obviously, jazz (and later rock) contrasted with the musical and official culture that at that time Moscow imposed on its citizens. One of these visits to the Soviet Union occurred just in 1962. Being a diplomatic act, the Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev had to attend the opening of the Benny Goodman orchestra concert in Moscow, but he kept his position cold, indifferent in front of jazz. The popularity of the visit of the American band, together with the tensions of the Cold War after the Cuban Missile Crisis, led the Communist Party to revise its regulations against this musical genre in 1963.
The USSR found in culture a great vehicle to carry out its attempts, especially through music and classical ballet. In this battle for the "hearts and minds" of the peoples of the world, the United States opted for an improbable but extremely effective response to Soviet initiatives: the building of international friendships through jazz. Jazz musicians were the ideal postcard to send to the eyes and ears of the world, foisting a certain America and spreading its capitalist and democratic brand while relieving political tensions in the midst of Cold War orthodoxies by sharing this common experience, social and cultural, conveyed by jazz. Jazz diplomacy, a kind of democratic art, sought to end myths such as that of an American representative of "white supremacy", cultural imperialism, and racial arrogance, at a time when the international discourse on rights was beginning to be constructed civil rights, discrimination, and cultural liberty.
Cull, Nicholas J., Public Diplomacy: Lessons from the Past. Figueroa Press: Los Angeles, 2009.
Davenport, Lisa E. (2009). Jazz Diplomacy: Promoting America in the Cold War Era. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.
Lynskey, D. (2011). 33 Revolutions per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, from Billie
Holiday to Green Day. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
Pieper, L. P. (2017). The US vs. USSR. University of Illinois Press.
Quenaud, L. M. (2010). American Music and American Protest Literature. (Diploma Thesis). San Diego State University.
Simonyi, Andras. Rocking for the Free World: How Rock Music Helped to Bring Down the Iron Curtain. Speech, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, OH, November 8, 2003,
Von Eschen, Penny M. (2004). Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: Harvard University Press, 2004.
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