Monthly Archives: December 2017

History of Immigrants and the Polish Music Scene

We have whole books filled with stories of Poles’ achievements abroad, but we know far less about the foreigners who had input in creating Polish culture. It may seem like everybody was leaving Poland, starting from the Great Emigration in the first half of 19th century and finishing in March 1968. However, the canon of Polish popular music was created not only by Poles and Jews, but also by refugees from neighbouring countries, economic migrants and people who accidentally ended up in Poland and decided to stay. Here are a few of their stories.

“Because it’s a negro playing!”
The history of Polish jazz did not start with underground jam sessions in the period of Stalinism, but on the dancefloors of fashionable clubs in the interwar period, where swing ruled. While some enjoyed the ‘psychosis of dance’, others complained about ‘jazz-banditry’ and ‘wild negro weed’ (specifically Kornel Makuszyński, who hated jazz). Sam Salvano’s success is proof that audiences were not convinced by what the conservative critics said. Salvano was primarily a drummer, but he also tap-danced and sang in five languages – no wonder that at the opening of the renowned Adria club in Warsaw, he was the star of the show. But even though he was from Congo, the posters said ‘straight from New York’.

Salvano performed with Karasiński’s and Kataszek’s orchestra, considered the first true Polish jazz band because they did not strictly play music from the US but rather focused on improvisation. The orchestra launched their career at Warsaw’s clubs, then went on the road and conquered Polish dancefloors and resorts. They then went on an international tour, first to Europe, then the Middle East, before going all the way to India. Their popularity becomes clear when we remember the fact that they were hired for a campaign to promote Indian, the American motorcycle brand.Foreigners performing with the orchestra also included Hungarian guitarist Imre Berta, American saxophonist Henry Nattan, and multi-instrumentalist Georg Scott, who was formerly a part of another pioneer ensemble founded by Henryk Gold. Scott was born in Tbilisi to a leading African-American oilman and a Pole from Sweden. He was also active as a musician during the war. He had American citizenship so German orders and decrees were not applicable to him. For example, he was allowed to have a radio, which was used by his colleagues from the Home Army and jazz enthusiasts.nother black musician who settled by the Vistula river before the war was August Agbola O’Brown. He was born in Nigeria and came to Poland in 1922 from London through the Free City of Danzig. He was a drummer in bars, first in Kraków before he decided to move to Warsaw. During the war he was part of the resistance: he helped people escape from the ghetto, distributed underground press, and took part in the Warsaw Uprising as part of the ‘Iwo’ battalion (his alias was Ali). After the Second World War, he continued to play music. The band he played with would promote themselves as a ‘black orchestra’.

The Effects of Music on Pain

Numerous meta-analyses have been conducted on the topic of music and pain, with the latest comprehensive study published in 2006. Since that time, more than 70 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have been published, necessitating a new and comprehensive review.

The aim of this meta-analysis was to examine published RCT studies investigating the effect of music on pain.

The present study included RCTs published between 1995 and 2014. Studies were obtained by searching 12 databases and hand-searching related journals and reference lists. Main outcomes were pain intensity, emotional distress from pain, vital signs, and amount of analgesic intake. Study quality was evaluated according to the Cochrane Collaboration guidelines.

Analysis of the 97 included studies revealed that music interventions had statistically significant effects in decreasing pain on 0–10 pain scales (MD = –1.13), other pain scales (SMD = –0.39), emotional distress from pain (MD = –10.83), anesthetic use (SMD = –0.56), opioid intake (SMD = –0.24), non-opioid intake (SMD = –0.54), heart rate (MD = –4.25), systolic blood pressure (MD = –3.34), diastolic blood pressure (MD = –1.18), and respiration rate (MD = –1.46). Subgroup and moderator analyses yielded additional clinically informative outcomes.

Considering all the possible benefits, music interventions may provide an effective complementary approach for the relief of acute, procedural, and cancer/chronic pain in the medical setting.

According to the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP, 1994), pain is “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.” This definition implies that how one understands and uses the word “pain” is influenced by his or her multilayered physical, psychological, social, and cultural experiences associated with unpleasant stimuli or injuries from the past.

Pain can be classified as procedural, acute, or chronic (Allen, 2013). Procedural pain occurs when medical procedures result in tissue and/or nerve damage. Sharp and sudden pain not caused by medical procedures is called acute pain, which is often associated with a single treatable event of injury or illness that can usually be managed within seven days (American Society for Pain Management Nursing [ASPMN], 2010). Chronic pain, also known as persistent pain, lasts longer than the anticipated duration of healing (ASPMN, 2010), and occurs continuously or intermittently with or without a known cause. According to the American Pain Society (2006), cancer-related pain is classified as a type of chronic pain with further sub-classification.

Inclusion Criteria
Included trials were limited to randomized controlled trials (RCT) published between 1995 and 2014 in English, German, Korean, and Japanese. Studies from the past two decades were chosen, because clinical trials from more recent years are considered higher quality in their methodology and reporting style (Tsai et al., 2014). The language restriction was applied due to the limited resources available to the author.

Music Is Violence

In December, 1989, the Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was expelled from power by American forces. To escape capture, he took refuge in the Papal Nunciatura in Panama City. When an American general arrived to confer with the papal nuncio, the U.S. Army blared music from loudspeakers to prevent journalists from eavesdropping. Members of a psychological-operations unit then decided that non-stop music might aggravate Noriega into surrendering. They made requests for songs on the local armed-forces radio station, and directed the din at Noriega’s window. The dictator was thought to prefer opera, and so hard rock dominated the playlist. The songs conveyed threatening, sometimes mocking messages: Alice Cooper’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.”

Although the media delighted in the spectacle, President George H. W. Bush and General Colin Powell, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took a dim view of it. Bush called the campaign “irritating and petty,” and Powell had it stopped. Noriega, who had received psy­ops training at Fort Bragg in the nineteen-sixties, is said to have slept soundly through the clamor. Nonetheless, military and law-enforcement officials became convinced that they had stumbled on a valuable tactic. “Since the Noriega incident, you’ve been seeing an increased use of loudspeakers,” a psyops spokesman declared. During the siege of the Branch Davidian compound, in Waco, Texas, in 1993, the F.B.I. blasted music and noise day and night. When Palestinian militants occupied the Church of the Nativity, in Bethlehem, in 2002, Israeli forces reportedly tried to eject them with heavy metal. And during the occupation of Iraq the C.I.A. added music to the torture regime known as “enhanced interrogation.” At Guantánamo, detainees were stripped to their underwear, shackled to chairs, and blinded by strobe lights as heavy metal, rap, and children’s tunes assaulted their ears. Music has accompanied acts of war since trumpets sounded at the walls of Jericho, but in recent decades it has been weaponized as never before—outfitted for the unreal landscape of modern battle.

The intersection of music and violence has inspired a spate of academic studies. On my desk is a bleak stack of books examining torture and harassment, the playlists of Iraq War soldiers and interrogators, musical tactics in American crime-prevention efforts, sonic cruelties inflicted in the Holocaust and other genocides, the musical preferences of Al Qaeda militants and neo-Nazi skinheads. There is also a new translation, by Matthew Amos and Fredrick Rönnbäck, of Pascal Quignard’s 1996 book, “The Hatred of Music” (Yale), which explores age-old associations between music and barbarity.

When music is applied to warlike ends, we tend to believe that it has been turned against its innocent nature. To quote the standard platitudes, it has charms to soothe a savage breast; it is the food of love; it brings us together and sets us free. We resist evidence suggesting that music can cloud reason, stir rage, cause pain, even kill. Footnoted treatises on the dark side of music are unlikely to sell as well as the cheery pop-science books that tout music’s ability to make us smarter, happier, and more productive. Yet they probably bring us closer to the true function of music in the evolution of human civilization.


Once upon a time, there was a period in our lives when the release of a brand spankin’ new music video (in TRL terms) from one of our favorite artists was a legitimate event, one that would often lead to iconic moments that were thus ingrained in our brain forever. The music video was the medium where artists and their chosen collaborators could give visual life to the song, focusing on its meaning or creative inspirations, while simultaneously vying for the success of the single.

Nowadays, though, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a music video that prioritizes artistic aspirations over commercial performance. More and more videos have flat concepts that are just aesthetically appealing enough for the average person to stream it once and get the song lodged in their heads. Artistic vision and innovativeness are just not essential anymore. But not all artists are falling for this trap, instead focusing on a new medium to execute their creative vision.

Now more than ever, musicians have been making short films in order to promote their projects. This format allows them to hone in on their artistic vision more than a normal music video is able to do, without having to worry quite as much about commercial appeal. Artists can come up with full-fledged plot lines, construct more elaborate settings, give breathtaking performances, and create groundbreaking visuals inspired by their song or album, with the longer length of a short film giving their vision true justice.

In 2016 alone, Beyoncé, Florence + the Machine, and most recently, Drake, have released short films for their latest albums which completely redefine the music video and the purpose they serve. While they are still inevitably used as a promotional tool for the music, their respective short films have allowed them more room to create striking visuals, establish emotional depth, and cause unprecedented cultural impact.Beyoncé’s Emmy-nominated Lemonade is the shining example of this trend, a suspenseful look at the destruction and reformation of a sacred marriage, and an eye-opening celebration of black women in society. The incredible visual settings and emotional resonance of these messages have caused the film to permeate our culture in the way of a significant music video, spawning its own memes and catchphrases while placing emphasis on the emotional effects of cheating. Lemonade shows a vulnerable, broken Beyoncé building back her confidence and security, exposing a rarely seen side of the legendary pop phenom, something which could not be justly shown in a music video.