This week's Society for Ethnomusicology statement about the use of music for torture has reached the larger blogosphere. This posting on www.boingboing.net covers the main points:
Ethnomusicologists against music as torture
In 1989, US Psy Ops troops blared songs like "Voodoo Child" and "I Fought The Law" at Manuel Noriega's compound as an effort to induce surrender. The same kind of "acoustic bombardment" occurred at Waco and is reportedly used during POW interrogations too. According to this BBC News article, tunes from Sesame Street, Barney, and Metallica were popular Psy Ops picks in Iraq. Here's a paper on the subject by New York University music professor Suzanne Cusick that was published last year in Revista Transcultural de Música. Last week, the Society for Ethnomusicology published a position statement "against the use of music as torture." From their document:
The U.S. government and its military and diplomatic agencies has used music as an instrument of abuse since 2001, particularly through the implementation of programs of torture in both covert and overt detention centers as part of the war on terror.
The Society for Ethnomusicology
* calls for full disclosure of U.S. government-sanctioned and funded programs that design the means of delivering music as torture;
* condemns the use of music as an instrument of torture; and
* demands that the United States government and its agencies cease using music as an instrument of physical and psychological torture.
Suzanne is one of my advisors. She also rocks my world. I highly recommend her article on music and torture; in fact, the whole Trans journal is well worth a look, though much of it is in Spanish. My primary advisor Ana was this issue's guest editor--and she too rocks my world. Lots of that going around lately! This issue actually came out a few weeks ago, not last year (although Suzanne presented a version of that paper at the AMS conference in LA last November).