Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear by Steve Goodman

Published by MIT Press, 2010 (270 pages; paperback)

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Sound can be deployed to produce discomfort, express a threat, or create an ambiance of fear or dread—to produce a bad vibe. Sonic weapons of this sort include the "psychoacoustic correction" aimed at Panama strongman Manuel Noriega by the U.S. Army and at the Branch Davidians in Waco by the FBI, sonic booms (or "sound bombs") over the Gaza Strip, and high-frequency rat repellents used against teenagers in malls. At the same time, artists and musicians generate intense frequencies in the search for new aesthetic experiences and new ways of mobilizing bodies in rhythm. In Sonic Warfare, Steve Goodman explores these uses of acoustic force and how they affect populations.

Through a discussion of the politics of frequency, Goodman investigates the deployment of sound systems in the modulation of affect. Sonic Warfare traverses philosophy, science, fiction, aesthetics, and popular culture, mapping a (dis)continuum of vibrational force, encompassing police and military research into acoustic means of crowd control, the corporate deployment of sonic branding, and the intense sonic encounters of sound art and music culture.

Steve Goodman is a Lecturer in Music Culture at the School of Sciences, Media, and Cultural Studies at the University of East London, a member of the CCRU (Cybernetic Culture Research Unit), and the founder of the record label Hyperdub. He produces bass-driven electronic music under the name kode9 and is also a member of the sound art collective Audint.