Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Music as a Weapon of War

Award-winning musician Christopher Cerf has composed music for the famous children's television show Sesame Street for 40 years.
In 2003, it transpired that US intelligence services had tortured detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib with music from Sesame Street.

Human rights researcher Thomas Keenan explains:
"Prisoners were forced to put on headphones. They were attached to chairs, headphones were attached to their heads, and they were left alone just with the music for very long periods of time. Sometimes hours, even days on end, listening to repeated loud music."
(or jazz, country and heavy-metal, mixed together!)

Christopher Cerf: "In Guantanamo they actually used music to break prisoners. So the idea that my music had a role in that is kind of outrageous," he says. "This is fascinating to me both because of the horror of music being perverted to serve evil purposes if you like, but I'm also interested in how that's done. What is it about music that would make it work for that purpose?"
The film, Songs of War, explores the relationship between music and violence.

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see also

Award-winning Sesame Street songwriter Christopher Cerf discusses what it was like to learn that his music was used to torture U.S. detainees in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay:

I still feel that music might be better then physical torture, if you had to choose. But Mike actually subjected me – they actually put me in a dark cell and made me listen to my own music for a long time at a high volume. And boy, I was glad when I got out of there.

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