Music and Violence

December 15, 2008
Posted by Jay Livingston

Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast. Or enrage it.

At Gitmo, “harsh interrogations” include Heavy Metal. We’ve known that for a while. Here’s the latest twist:
Musicians are banding together to demand the U.S. military stop using their songs as weapons. . . . groups including Massive Attack and musicians such as Tom Morello, who played with Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave.

For many Afghan detainees - where music was prohibited under Taliban rule - interrogations by U.S. forces marked their first exposure to the rhythms, played at top volume. (New York Newsday, Dec. 10)

Music as torture –good ideas like this are hard to stop from spreading.
A Colorado judge who noticed that many of the people who showed up in his courtroom for violating noise ordinances were repeat offenders has decided to quit fooling around: new offenders may find themselves sentenced to an hour of listening to Barry Manilow or the theme tune from the children's TV show ''Barney and Friends.'' (New York Times, Nov. 28)
(The judge’s cruel and unusual list also included The Platters and The Carpenters.)

In the US the music-and-violence flap has been mostly about rap. But in some places, even easy listening isn’t so easy.
International: Karaoke singer killed after hogging mic

A Malaysian karaoke enthusiast hogged the microphone for so long that he was set upon and stabbed to death.

Karaoke rage is not uncommon, especially in Asia. There have been several reported instances of singers being assaulted, shot or stabbed mid-performance, usually over how songs are sung.

In Seattle last year, a woman with an apparent aversion for Coldplay attacked a singer who had just embarked on a rendition of Yellow.

Frank Sinatra's My Way has reportedly generated such outbursts of hostility that some bars in the Philippines now no longer serve it up on the karaoke menu.

In Thailand this year, a gunman killed eight people after tiring of endless renditions of a John Denver tune.
(The Guardian)

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