Musical Warfare: How to Use Music As a Form of Torture and Assault

Introduction

Although I could easily make this article about the most horrible songs ever written and how they get stuck in our heads, this is not what our topic is about today. In this article, we will discuss torture, its anatomy, and the role music can play in it. We will differentiate between different types of torture, how our senses can be used against us to cause us pain, the after-effects of torture, military uses of music in psychological operations, sonic technologies developed specifically for sieges and law enforcement applications, and how artists are speaking out against the use of their music in these operations. So strap yourself in and continue reading because you’re in for ride.

Pain and Perceptions of the Ear

The human ear is defenseless. It’s unable to keep sound out, so it must take in all it hears. Without earplugs, anti-noise headphones or other defensive technologies the ear is helpless to protect itself. One of the great advantages of using music as an implement of torture is that it leaves no physical mark. At least, so it seems. Because sound moves particles in the air and pushes the vibrations into our ear, the effect has a potential for danger. With an increase in the volume of sound, the vibrations push particles ever more strongly into our ear, thereby causing harm over time or immediately according to conditions. Here’s a brief description on how the ear can be damaged causing hearing loss and auditory malfunction.

Hair cells reside in the cochlea. Bundles of hair-like extensions, called stereo cilia, rest on top of them. When sound waves travel through the ears and reach the hair cells, the vibrations deflect off the stereo cilia, causing them to move according to the force and pitch of the vibration. Different forms of sound cause them to move in a variety of ways. For instance, a melodic piano tune would produce gentle movements, while heavy metal would generate faster, sharper motion. This motion triggers an electrochemical current that sends the information from the stereo cilia through the auditory nerves and eventually to the brain.

­When you hear exceptionally loud noises, your stereo cilia can become damaged and mistakenly keep sending sound information to the auditory nerve cells. In the case of loud sound sources such as rock concerts and fireworks displays, ringing happens because the tips of some of your stereo cilia have actually broken off. You hear those false currents in the ringing in your ear (or head), called tinnitus. However, since you can grow these small tips back in about 24 hours, the ringing is often temporary.

So as you can see although music torture is classified along with other forms of psychological torture, the damage that high volume sound can really cause is actually physical. If music torture causes the loss of hearing, the remedy for this physical ailment is not months or years of counseling, but rather a hearing aid. Deafness is a physical malfunction, not a psychological or emotional issue.

The Differences between Physical and Psychological Torture

Torture is the practice or act of deliberately inflicting severe physical pain and possibly injury on a living being. Although psychological and animal tortures also exist, the forms of torture can vary greatly in duration from a few minutes to several days or even longer. Reasons for torture can also vary greatly and they can include punishment, revenge, political re-education, deterrence, interrogation, coercion, or a sadistic gratification of observing the tortured in agony and pain.

Physical torture methods have been used throughout recorded history and can range from a beating to the use of sophisticated custom designed devices such as the rack. Exceptional ingenuity has been shown in the invention of instruments and techniques for physical torture, which exploit medical knowledge of the vulnerabilities of the human body such as the sensitivity of nail beds to pressure, or of the soles of the feet to heat. Other types of torture can include sensory or sleep deprivation, restraint or being held in awkward or damaging positions, uncomfortable extremes of heat and cold, loud noises or any other means that inflicts severe physical or mental pain. Physical torture is plainly the inflicting of severe pain or suffering on a person.

Psychological torture, on the other hand, uses non-physical methods to cause emotional or mental suffering. Its effects are not immediately apparent unless they alter the behavior of the tortured person. Psychological torture is less well known than physical torture and tends to be subtle and much easier to conceal. In practice the distinctions between physical and psychological torture can often be blurred. In contrast to physical torture, psychological torture is directed at the psyche with calculated violations of psychological needs, along with deep damage to psychological structures and the breakage of beliefs underpinning normal sanity.

Music torture is clearly difficult to categorize. Physically, the ear can become damaged, although no blows were inflicted upon the victim. On the other hand, music torture can prevent a victim from maintaining a normally functioning consciousness. Psychological torture also includes deliberate use of extreme stressors and situations such as mock execution, shunning, violation of deep-seated social or sexual norms and taboos, or extended solitary confinement. Because psychological torture needs no physical violence to be effective, it is possible to induce severe psychological pain, suffering, and trauma with no externally visible effects. Torturers often inflict both types of torture in combination to compound the associated effects.

In fact, music torture is most effective when it is combined with other forms of torture such as mock executions, simulated drowning, sexual and religious humiliation, stress positions or sleep deprivation, the exploitation of prisoners’ phobias, the use of mind-altering drugs, hooding, forced nakedness, the use of dogs to frighten detainees, exposing prisoners to extreme heat and cold, physical assault and threatening the use of such techniques against a prisoner or a prisoner’s family.

In addition, music torture is sometimes used with medical, pharmacological, and even tickle torture. With medical torture, medical practitioners use torture to judge what victims can endure, to apply treatments that enhance torture, or act as torturers in their own right. Pharmacological torture is the use of drugs to produce psychological and physical pain or discomfort. Tickle torture is an unusual form of torture which can be both physically and psychologically painful. But more commonly, music torture is mixed with using

The Analysis and Effects of Music Torture

So what aspects of music make it possible to turn it into a weapon of torture? Three aspects come to mind and they are a) type of music, b) loudness, or volume, and c) the length of exposure. Often in military operations such as torture or interrogations, the music of choice is usually something which is extremely annoying or very stimulating. For example, several days after Paris Hilton announced that she would release an album, the Pentagon decided to buy 50,000 copies to use against insurgents in the Anbar province in Iraq. Other choices of music can range from various types of heavy metal such as Metallica to songs from children’s T.V. shows such as Barney and Sesame Street.

The annoyance or stimulating factor of the music used is further intensified when the loudness or volume level is deafeningly high. In some cases, the volume levels have been reported to be as high as 120 – 150 dB, which equates to the sound range of a chainsaw, thunderclap and even a jet take-off. In addition, the length of exposure further exacerbates the effect of the music torture by causing the disorientation of the other senses. In psychological operations and during interrogations, it’s quite common for a single song to be played at extremely loud volume levels for a 24 hour period. All of these factors combined are what give music torture its effectiveness as an assault weapon.

The consequences of music torture reach far beyond discomfort and immediate pain. Many victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which includes symptoms such as flashbacks (or intrusive thoughts), severe anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, depression and memory lapses. Torture victims often feel guilt and shame, triggered by the humiliation they have endured. Many feel that they have betrayed themselves or their friends and family. All such symptoms are normal human responses to abnormal and inhuman treatment.

For survivors, torture often leads to lasting mental and physical health problems. Music torture in particular is difficult to prove, especially when some time has passed between the event and a medical examination. Many torturers around the world use methods designed to have a maximum psychological impact while leaving no or only minimal physical traces. Typically deaths due to torture are shown in an autopsy as being due to “natural causes” like heart attack, inflammation, or embolism due to extreme stress.

Physical problems can be as wide-ranging as sexually transmitted diseases, muscular-skeletal problems, brain injury, post-traumatic epilepsy, dementia, and chronic pain syndromes. Mental health problems are equally wide-ranging, but the most common are post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety disorder. One of the most terrible psychological effects of torture is the killing of desire and curiosity, while the core feature of the post-traumatic landscape of torture is psychic deadness.

Gauntanamo captive Binyam Mohamed, who has since returned to England after years of imprisonment and torture, was interviewed on London’s Mail on Sunday. In this interview, he talked about how his sonic torture started in a Kabul prison in 2002 where he was held for eighteen months in complete darkness before his transfer to Gauntanamo in 2004. His body conveys no direct physical markings of his claims of abuse, but he relates how, “There were loudspeakers in the cell, pumping out a deafening, non-stop volume, 24 hours a day. They played the same CD for a month, The Eminem Show. When it was finished it went back to the beginning and started again. I couldn’t sleep. I had no idea whether it was day or night.”

Military Uses of Music Assault

History’s most infamous musical assault occurred against the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas (1993). The story goes that the FBI wore down the compound dwellers over the seven week siege, exploiting the defenselessness of the ear, by broadcasting sleep-preventing decibel levels of massively distorted music.

A few years earlier, the U.S. tried to force out Manuel Noriega from Panama City with a non-stop bombardment of heavy metal music by the likes of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. In December 1989, the United States invaded Panama. Noriega took refuge in the Holy See’s embassy on December 24, which was immediately surrounded by U.S. troops. After being continually attacked with hard rock music, including Van Halen’s hit song Panama and “The Howard Stern Show” for several days, Noriega surrendered on January 3, 1990.

In Guantanamo Bay and prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq reports have surfaced claiming that interrogation techniques involve the uses of extremely loud music to soften prisoners. Reports from Guantanamo Bay also indicate that disturbing chicken noises were played over a loud-speaker for more than 25 hours to induce sleep deprivation. Loudspeaker systems are also used to communicate with enemy soldiers by intimidating them with frightening voices. Apparently, this is form of sonic attack is an effective method for getting insurgents to surrender, along with intimidating phone calls made directly to the families of insurgents and enemy commanding officers.

Amnesty International has also received reports describing various kinds of humiliation and torture prisoners and detainees the world over has endured. The most common methods often reported include prolonged sleep deprivation, beatings, prolonged restraint in painful positions, hooding, exposure to loud music, and to bright lights.

Music Torture Technologies in Bullet Points

On November 18, 1998, now-defunct Synetics Corporation was contracted to produce a tightly focused beam of infrasound intended to produce effects that range from disabling to killing a target.

In 1999, Maxwell Technologies patented a HyperSonic Sound System, which is a highly directional device designed to control hostile crowds or disable hostage takers.

In 1999, Primex Physics International patented both the “Acoustic Blaster” and the Sequential Arc Discharge Acoustic Generator, which produce repetitive impulse waveforms of 165dB. Both sonic weapons are designed for “antipersonnel applications,” produce their effects with high intensity impulsive sound waves by electrical means, and are believed to be controllable at a distance of 50 feet or more.

American Technology Corporation has also development the Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD, 10 years earlier. This is a weapon capable of projecting a ‘strip of sound’ (15 to 30 inches wide) at an average of 120 dB (maxing at 151 dB). Because the LRAD is designed to hail ships, issue battlefield or crowd-control commands, or directs an attention-getting and highly irritating deterrent tone for behavior modification, its sonic projection is intelligible from 500 to 1,000 meters away. Wielded by the 361st PsyOps company, the LRAD was deployed to prepare the battlefield in the siege of Falluja in November of 2004. The device was armed with Metallica’s “Hells’ Bells” and “Shoot to Thrill.”

Artists Protest the Use of Music Torture

Honestly, positions are mixed among musicians in regard to the use of their music in torture. Many support the military position of do whatever it takes to stop the terrorists, while others are deeply opposed to the use of any form of torture on a humanitarian basis. For example, the Associated Press reported that Stevie Benton of the group Drowning Pool said, “I take it as an honor to think that perhaps our song could be used to quell another 9/11 attack or something like that.” My position, as a citizen and not as an artist, is based on the concept of political freedom, so I support any government that respects the freedoms of its citizens. However, when it comes to crime, I want law enforcement and the judicial system to prosecute those who violate the rights of others with an appropriate fine or incarceration. And in regard to war, military law should apply to combatants captured on the battlefield. In such cases, both forfeit their rights.

In contrast, the Associated Press also reported that various musicians were coordinating their objections to the use of their music in interrogations through an initiative called Zero dB. Zero dB is an initiative against music torture set up by legal charity Reprieve. This charity represents over thirty prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. Zero dB aims to stop torture music by encouraging widespread condemnation of the practice of music torture by calling on governments and the UN to uphold and enforce the Convention against Torture and other relevant treaties.

The initiative is backed by the Musicians Union which is calling on British musicians to also voice their outrage against the use of music to torture. Musicians and the wider public are making their own silent protests against music torture which are being shown on Zero dB. Participating musicians will include minutes of silence in their concerts to draw their audience’s attention to the USA’s use of deafening music against captives.

Among the musicians united in their objections were Christopher Cerf, a composer for the children’s show Sesame Street, Tom Morello, guitarist of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. Others include R.E.M., The Roots, Rise Against, Rosanne Cash, Pearl Jam, Bonnie Raitt, Trent Reznor, Billy Bragg, Michelle Branch, Jackson Browne, T-Bone Burnett, David Byrne, Marc Cohn, Steve Earle, the Entrance Band, and Joe Henry. Many others are sure to follow.

Royalty Payments from Music Torture

While the Zero dB initiative seems really cool, there just seems to be something wrong with the idea that those engaged in music torture ought to pay royalties to the musician’s whose songs are used in the torture process. The Guardian reported that the US military may owe royalty payments to the artists whose works were played to the captives. For those artists who do not want their music to be used for this purpose, it’s definitely appropriate for the military to stop using their music on an immediate basis. However, once the military has ceased to use their music in torture sessions, these artists shouldn’t return to receive royalty checks. On the other hand, artists who do want their music to be used in torture sessions, for whatever reason, should be given royalty payments, unless they arrange pro-bono usage rights to the military.

The Top Three Must Have Disc Music Boxes for Music Box and Antique Collectors

There are many vintage and antique music boxes and music collectibles that the music box and antique collector can seek. These include wooden jewelry boxes, inlaid music boxes, wooden keepsake boxes, and disc music boxes. The top three disc music boxes are the symphonion, polyphon, and Regina music box.

Symphonion

Symphonion music boxes were made in Germany beginning in 1886. Paul Lochmann, founder of Kuhro-Lochmann was the first manufacturer of disc music boxes. They symphonion was produced in many sizes, types, and styles. Some of the more popular items in the 1890′s were disc-playing clocks, the three-disc Erocia the “Rocco” which was contained in an attractive wooden case, and the “Gambrinus” which was a coin-operated machine made in the shape of a barrel.

Since many collectors consider the tone of symphonion music boxes superior to the polyphon music boxes, finding a music box such as this would be a real treat for the music box and antique collector.

Polyphon

Established by Gustave Brachhausen in 1897, the Polyphon Company created a line of strong interchangeable music boxes and musical objects such as coin operated clocks fitted with disc movements and the polyphon-concerto. The polyphon-concerto was as a disc orchestra, which played a piano, bass drum, snare drum, and glockenspiel. In later years, the company also made a very rare “folding-top” table box as well as the casket model, which included paper rolls. Discovering the rare “folding-top” table box would be a tremendous find for the music box and antique collector as well as a great asset for any collection.

Regina

Many music box and antique collectors view the Regina disc music box as having the best sound.

The company was established in 1892 when Polyphon founder Gustave Brachhausen, went to the U.S. to found the Regina Music Box Company in New Jersey. Some interesting music boxes and musical items made by Regina before its demise in 1922 included a hand-operated vacuum cleaner, and the disc orchestrions that played piano, tublar bells, drums, and triangle. In addition, the company came out with the Reginaphone, which had a turntable, and horn that could be removed as well as a phonograph arm that could be turned to one it. This enabled it to be used as a normal music box.

For the music box and antique collector interested in collecting antique and vintage music boxes, the symphonion, polyphon, and Regina music boxes would make great additions to any collection. Why not add them to your current collection of inlaid music boxes, musical jewelry boxes, wooden jewelry boxes, and wooden keepsake boxes today?

Copyright 2006 Monique Hawkins

The 7 Qualities You Must Have To Make It In The Music Business

Want to know how to become a successful full time musician in the music business? First, you should forget about all the ‘conventional wisdom’ you’ve been told by those who have NEVER been highly successful in the music industry. It’s a fact that most musicians who try to succeed in the music business will actually fail… but YOU do not need to be one of them!

On the other hand, musicians who build and sustain successful music careers utilize an entirely different set of skills, thought processes and values that help them achieve music business success. These things are not music business secrets that are only available to rock stars and music industry executives – anyone can learn and utilize them (this includes you). Throughout the rest of this article I will discuss these various qualities and help you understand how you can use them to benefit your personal music career.

Contrary to what you might first think, learning to play your instrument at a ‘professional’ level isn’t included in the list below. Why? Because it is a ‘given’ that you must be working towards that goal already every day. In addition, your musical abilities (on their own) will not be enough to guarantee your success in the music business. Fact is, there are countless musicians who can play extremely well, but nevertheless do not build a successful music career… so it is clear that musical talent alone can only take you so far.

Most of the qualities I will be discussing have to do with the way you ‘think’ rather than the specific actions you take. It is rare to find someone who has the right mindset that contains all of these qualities. However, you can get ‘trained’ to develop a success oriented mindset and thus massively increase your chances for making it in the music industry.

Here are the most important qualities to develop for yourself in order to build a highly successful music career:

The Right Work Ethic Mentality

Of course it is obvious that you will need to work hard to build a successful music career. However, most musicians do not understand what ‘kind’ of working mentality is required to truly ‘make it’. The type of dedication needed requires more than just working a lot on your career. It requires:

1. Understanding the ‘correct’ course of action to take in order to make progress. This means not just ‘working a lot’, but working on the ‘right things’ that will lead you where you want to go.

2. Working in the most effective and productive manner possible. Tons of people stay busy throughout the day, but never actually accomplish anything important. You don’t want to become one of these people.

3. Being aware of how everything you do factors into the growth of your music career in the long term.

4. Having the patience and commitment to do all the hard work ‘up front’, long before you get a payoff of any kind. A common example of this would be recording a full length album in the studio before actually making any profit from it.

To develop the right work ethic mindset, work to clearly understand your long term music career goals and find a mentor who will help you determine the steps you must take to reach them.

Steadfast Loyalty

In the music industry, you will not reach a high level of success alone. Music companies, musicians, promoters, managers and other music industry types will all act as your business partners at one point or another in your music career. These people will all invest their time, energy and resources into you and because of this they will expect your loyalty (as you will likewise expect it from them). Musicians who are not loyal are frequently banned from future business ventures and music career opportunities. The majority of musicians take loyalty for granted and only ‘pretend’ to be loyal until they can take advantage of an opportunity at the expense of their partners.

Although there exist many definitions for what ‘loyalty’ is – as a general concept it refers to not pursuing opportunities that will benefit you while bringing down those who work together with you. Of course, being loyal does not mean letting others take advantage of you either. There is a balance here that you must learn as you work in the music industry. Without this balance, you will struggle to achieve great success for an extended period of time.

The Ability To Create Value Outside Of Skills Related To Playing An Instrument

No matter if you are working as an independent musician or together with a music company, you will greatly benefit by knowing how to negotiate, book shows, build a following of fans, put together a tour, communicate effectively, think of profitable business ideas and much more.

Certainly you do not need to be the ‘best’ at all of these things (you should find others who are strong in the areas that you are weak in) and it isn’t always good to attempt to do everything on your own. That said, when you can do these things yourself, you become capable of adding a lot of value to any situation. This gives you the ability to:

1. Become the ‘best choice’ for any bands looking for a new member

2. Determine different ways to earn a living in the music business

3. Reduce the amount of money you need to spend on hiring others to do the tasks you can’t do

4. Make a lot more money due to the additional value you offer

5. Greatly increase the chances for success in any musical project you pursue

The main idea is that highly successful professional musicians are multi-dimensional, and do not merely ‘play an instrument’. This is why other musicians and music industry professionals always want to work with them (increasing their chances for success).

A Positive -’Everyone Wins’ – Mindset

The majority of musicians are always looking out for themselves without thinking about the effect their actions have on others. Of course, you will need to get your own needs met, but you do not need to do so while bringing others down at the same time. The musicians who become the most successful and gain access to the greatest opportunities in this business are always getting what they want while ALSO finding a way to help the people they work with do the same. In nearly all scenarios, you can find a way to create a great outcome for everyone involved. To do this, you will need to think from a totally different perspective than most musicians (and people in general).

Freedom To Pursue Music Industry Opportunities

It’s a lot a less difficult to pursue any music industry related opportunities when you are free to do so. Gaining this freedom while putting together a music career is a major factor for achieving success in the music industry.

Being Able To Work Well In Situations Of High Stress

In the music business you will need to do things like tour, complete recording sessions and work on several projects at once – while at the same time working together with musicians who all have different personalities, desires and ways of thinking than you. This will create a lot of stress, but is an inevitable and unavoidable aspect of working as a professional musician. Being able to move a project forward without becoming overwhelmed by everyday causes of stress is something most musicians struggle with.

Musicians who achieve the greatest success in the music business have an uncanny ability to stay calm in situations of high stress. When I mentor musicians on how to succeed in music, I help them develop and utilize this ability while working to create new music projects with others. This helps most musicians gain a whole new insight on their personality that allows them to eliminate any weaknesses that would limit their music career success.

Being Able To See The ‘Big Picture’

The music industry contains tons of opportunities and challenges no matter which path you decide to take in your career. Additionally, no matter what path you go down, you will always have limited time and resources to use. To make things even more challenging, you will often have to do most of your work well before seeing any of the benefits of your efforts.

If you do not have a perfect vision of where you want to go in the music business, it will be very difficult not to become torn in different directions that take you far away from your original goals.

The musicians who become successful in the music business are always focusing to align their actions up with the end goals they desire most. This gives them the ability to judge what is best for their music career and make the right choice whenever a potential opportunity comes their way. By doing this, they are able to achieve their goals quickly and effectively.

Now that you have read about the crucial qualities needed for success in the music business, here are 4 things you should do to start building a successful long term music career:

1. Learn about becoming a successful pro musician and avoid the things that will hold you back from developing the successful music career you desire.

2. Get professional insight on how the music industry works and prepare yourself to succeed in the music business.

3. Using the results from step 2 above, put together a plan for how you will improve your weaknesses and make progress in your music career.

4. Get trained by a mentor who has already achieved the things you want to do in the music industry to reach your music career goals faster.