Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » “Neither Music, Melody, nor Harmony”

“Neither Music, Melody, nor Harmony”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - February 06, 2014

Just for kicks and giggles, here’s aletter I just read, written in 1949 by Leah D. Widtsoe (granddaughter of Brigham Young, wife of apostle John A. Widtsoe). Addressed to Radio Station KMUR in Murray, Utah, Leah writes:

Dear Gentlemen:

Unfortunately, I have had a cold for the last week and I have enjoyed listening to your music, mostly because there is not too much jazz in it. Your music for luncheon between twelve3 and one o’clock is lovely. I have enjoyed it so much.

I have a radio, F.M., but that doesn’t come on until three o’clock so I have enjoyed your music, which gives me pleasure frequently before that hour.

I hope you will not be tempted to use this modern “stuff” that is neither music, melody, nor harmony. It is just noise.

Hoping you will be able to avoid the horrible Jazz that KNAK and some of the other stations use, I am

Yours sincerely,


So remember, if you’re hollering at your kids to turn down their speakers, or you can’t stand the noise when you chaperone a youth dance, you have Mormon precedent with an unsurpassed pedigree. And get off my lawn, you whippersnappers!



  1. KNAK was one of those stations playing “modern stuff” that I grew up listening to in the 1960s (Beatles and Rolling Stones, et al.). Too bad she took such a dim view of jazz. The 1950s were a gold mine of great new artists and music, something I have only in the last few years come to really appreciate.

    Comment by kevinf — February 6, 2014 @ 11:17 am

  2. With great deference and respect to Sister Widtsoe, I have to think that some of her disdain was probably born of unfamiliarity and ignorance. Had she taken the time to get to know some of the pop and jazz music, she might have developed at least some appreciation for it.

    Not that all music is created equally, but do I remember my elementary school music teacher (mid-70’s) telling our music class that the music of the Beatles and other popular groups was built on the same musical principles as Johann Sebastian Bach. This teacher was classically trained, but was responding to the notion that all that pop music was just a bunch of noise. Au contraire, she said.

    Comment by David Y. — February 6, 2014 @ 1:19 pm

  3. I say, let’s let Sister Widtsoe like what she likes. Bach will be around when the Beatles are of only antiquarian interest.

    Comment by Stephen Taylor — February 6, 2014 @ 6:05 pm

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