Monday, October 12, 2009

Sonic Warfare : new book by Steve Goodman

[I have another new blog where I'm posting music reviews, and the occasional book review. Check it out at!]

During my time at Mills College, I wrote my MFA thesis on The Use of Sound For Control, Healing and Empowerment, and have often thought about expanding or updating it many times in the last few years. I found, however, that the more I learned, the more questions it raised, and the more implications of major "classified" warfare applications I came across. While my thesis gave examples of some of the military applications of sound, as well as subliminal audio in public spaces and broadcast signals, I also ran into a lot of conflicting data, and particularly denials that any such activity was happening, or even possible; for example I would find de-classified research from the CIA showing they had a strong interest in subliminal audio influence, post WWII, but mainstream newspaper articles down-playing it and calling it nonsense. I also found that some of the more metaphysically-oriented elements of "sound healing" research I had studied in school really did not seem to have much "proof" to them, or provide any method to verify their validity; for example, there are multiple schools of thought in assigning different tones or frequencies to the "chakras" or energy centers in the body, but the actual source for this data is totally obscured in history, and may have come from a totally non-scientific, or just intuitive/"channeled" source. So, on one hand we have the military applications of sound being essentially covered-up, downplayed or unreported, and we have the "sound healing" applications muddied with lots of vague, spiritually-oriented data that do not necessarily have any scientific validation behind them (although most proponents of sound healing would tell you they simply haven't been scientifically validated YET, and practical evidence suggests there is "something to it"). I was left feeling like it would take a whole book to fully research and explain all the various viewpoints involved, and even then I suspected that the questions would not be answered. And so, I was excited to find a link to Steve Goodman's blog for his upcoming book Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect And The Ecology Of Fear. Goodman is the founder of the innovative Hyperdub label, widely credited with bringing dubstep to the global stage, and a solo artist under the name Kode 9. Goodman is also a musicologist and sonic researcher, and has turned his focus to the military uses of sound. He also posts regular articles and videos on his blog, and has even referenced some of the same articles I came across in my own research at Mills. I am glad someone has taken on such a massive, and relatively "dark", subject and I look forward to seeing what he's uncovered, and his conclusions. The book is available for pre-order online and is printing at the end of December.

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