Music History

Music as a Weapon of Torture

The Guardian reports on the work of Morag Grant and Susan Cusick who shed light on the use of music as a torture device.

We usually talk about the way music moves us – to joy, passion, excitement, melancholy, fury even – but music can also be put to much darker uses, something that is rarely discussed. Over the course of Radio 3’s Why Music?weekend, Morag Grant and Suzanne Cusick threw light on the disturbing history of music’s use in, and as, torture.

The impetus for much of their research over the past few years was the revelation of the ways music was one of the tools used to degrade and destabilise prisoners in the war on terror in locations including Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. For example, playing music – often chosen to be as culturally offensive as possible to the cadre of detained prisoners – at devastatingly loud volume for long but unpredictable periods, meant that prisoners were deprived of control of sleep, but also of their ability to find an aural space that was not invaded by their captors.

Read more at The Guardian here. What follows is a link to one of Cusick’s papers.

“You are in a place that is out of the world. . .”: Music in the Detention Camps of the “Global War on Terror”



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37812 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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