The Power of Sound

I had never thought about sonic warfare before these readings. I mean it, I really had no idea that there was a category of sounds that have been used throughout history to promote warfare. Something that the Goodman book forgot to talk about was the historical use of war cries, battle drums and rallying military speeches throughout early history to promote sonic warfare. Noise as threatening music is a new concept to me, though I have heard of some (I believe) Chinese interrogation attacks using high pitched noises to crack people (and this was used in French prisons according to a mostly factual movie I watched whose name I forget). But where I am confused is the boundaries of the term “sonic warfare.” It seems to encapsulate all of these issues- war cries, hitlers loudspeakers, jihadist cassets, noise pollution and more, but how does that all culimate in warfare? Is it that all of these things contribute to warfare or is one type predominante?

The Cusick article would say that things such as noise pollution and terrorizing enemies with certain sounds is sonic warfare – speaking to the torture mentioned earlier.

But I believe that the term encapsulates all of the things that the Goodman book was discussing, as a term can be fluid and define a category instead of one specific thing. I am glad to have read about these issues as I really hadn’t considered the effects of sonic warfare until now. It is scary to think about every public speaker in a town or city blaring rebel radio blasts, such as in Rawanda (I learned that from the Hotel Rawanda movie), influencing and terrifying groups into action. The power of sound goes far beyond political statements such as those we saw in Egypt, it can cause an all-out war…. terrifying, no?!


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