AT FIRST, there were questions: "How do you see your place in Soviet society today? Whom does your membership consist of? What forms of participation in t|ie antiwar movement can you offer?" They were put by Genrikh Borovik, Chairman of the Soviet Peace Committee, and by representatives from the Composers Union and the Ministry of Culture. From the nature and tone of these questions it was not difficult to conclude that the discussion would proceed on an equal footing, without taking into account the rumours and gossip which have been generated of late by the upswing in popularity of this musical genre. Incidentally, rock is not merely a genre-like alloy of music and a more or less poeticized text.
"Rock is an excellent means of communication and the strongest method of social impact," said Alexander Gradsky, composer, singer and musician, "we have proved this during the two odd decades that Soviet rock music has been in existence. Now it has an audience of many millions."
Indeed, today this no longer needs to be proved. Having sprung to life as an undoubtedly progressive musical trend, it has also experienced hard times, now and again being tilted towards commercialism, sheer amusement and reactionary political trends. Even today there are quite a few groups in the world preaching violence, fascism and ruthlessness. Nevertheless, there have always been forces capable of resisting them, and doing this with success. Here are some of the major actions by rock musicians in recent years - Rock in the Fight for Peace, Rock Against Nazism, 1984, Live Aid, the famous concert for the relief fund for the starving of Africa, 1985, Rock Against Apartheid, 1986 ...
The popularity of these acts bears witness to what the youth expects from "its own" music. No less eloquent is the list of the "hits" of Soviet rock. "Don't Break Up the Best City", "Military Dreams" by the Klon group, "Don't Shoot!" by the DDT group, "Nuclear Prince" by Alexander Bashlachev, the antiwar programme
"Century No. 20" by the Avtograf group, "Arise and Overcome Thy Fear" by the Master group - such models of rock publicism have become an effective weapon in the fight for peace. And the wider the access to it the more effective it is. After all, rock is an international language of the youth. Nor is Soviet rock an exception, as can be seen from the numerous concerts during the World Festival of Youth and Students, and from the performances of our groups abroad.
Rock accompaniment imparts inimitable emotional colouring to the most varied actions by the youth. It is heard during TV space link-ups, international scientific conferences and peace marches. A spokesman for Moscow's Kross rock music club spoke about preparations for the summer march USSR-USA, and a representative of the Ekologia youth group told about the part played by musicians in the ecological movement. Their proposals might not be sufficiently concrete, and their plans were a bit vague, but after all that meeting amounted to nothing more than a point of departure.
"I consider it necessary to support the 'Rock Musicians for Peace' movement," suggested Yuri Saulsky, Secretary of the Composers Union of the USSR, "because it is necessary for the musicians themselves. As the social basis of their creative work - single despite all the differences in taste and genre. Given the lack of this foundation, the revolting, devastating activities of some of the groups will become an end in itself. But art is a creative force. I think that musicians need consolidation today."
"The public organizations of physicians, ecologists, scientists and retired generals have rendered inestimable assistance to the cause of peace," Genrikh Borovik said in conclusion. "From their professional point of view they have proved the catastrophic nature of the consequences of the arms race, and done this with a rare force of conviction. Your profession is music. How greatly it will help humanity depends on your competence. We count on it."