American soldiers use iPods on the battlefield

What kind of music one listens to can certainly say a lot about one's character. Professor Jon Pieslak, a music theorist at the City College of New York, has based an interesting project on this notion. For over three years now, he has discussed American soldiers and the music they like.

He began thinking about it more thoroughly when he read an article about the heavy metal band Slayer. The Guardian reports in their Science Blog, that 40% of the band's fan mail, during the Gulf War, came from soldiers stationed in the Middle-East. Though as expected, Mozart or the Beatles are not the tunes floating around the deserted towns and desolate deserts of Iraq. Playlists are dominated by heavy bands, such as Slayer, Metallica and Eminem.

When one listens to the interviews — some are available here — it becomes clear that what's important is not the actual choice of music. The real subject is the effect certain music had on the soldiers, often in very extraordinary circumstances. Sometimes it's actually the person which reflects the music, when the soldiers have to become inhuman so they can do inhuman things.

Pieslak's interviewees are among the first generation to take their iPod's to the battlefield. While the seriousness of the subject may seem inappropriate to relate it with technology, it's fascinating to learn how people use gadgets also to make things easier for them. On the project's website the aim is stated as follows: "The goal is to gain an understanding of how soldiers listen to music, what they listen to, and how they feel music may have affected them. I want to create an open platform for soldiers to express, in their own words, their relationship to music while on tour in Iraq."

One of the soldiers tells how they played Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries", and played it over speakers on their assault vehicle, during a thunder run in Bagdad. While these soldiers fight for a cause, whether right or wrong, they seem to feel that music allows them to prevent a cultural shock. In any case, the interviews provide a very thoughtful and personal insight into the minds of those who truly believe in what they do.

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29 Comments

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this reminds me of those primitive tribes they show on TV , going into fights with someone playing a huge drum... probably on the back of an elephant, too...

I can't believe some of the retarded comments posted here!!! we have boys and girs putting their lives on the line to do a job, some of them have stated on the record that listening to music helps them get through what they have to do!!! Are you insane, are you out there? have you been out on a battlefield? Are you there on the front line? I've been there, seen friends blown away do yout hink it doesn't help me to listen to metallica, or iron maiden, slipknot, drowning pool or rammstein??? It does as someone said, pumps you up, the same way some of you who may get off your asses and go into the real world use your iPods in the gym, music is emotive and if it helps what's the problem, you don't like it, get up serve and fight do what you have to to survive!!!!!

What a bunch of ungrateful, whining little bastar**!!!!!!!!!!

And for the record it's not just American forces out there, you do realise that British forces are out there too!?!??! And if you want to stand toe to toe with an Army let's see who'd win? Because why we'd be fighting each other, China or Russia would swoop in and blow us all the f*** up!

So unless you have something intelligent to say with background knowledge in the field of serving your country or even as a music theorist then STFU!!! Grow a pair!!!!

cerealfreak said,
I can't believe some of the retarded comments posted here!!! we have boys and girs putting their lives on the line to do a job, some of them have stated on the record that listening to music helps them get through what they have to do!!! Are you insane, are you out there? have you been out on a battlefield? Are you there on the front line? I've been there, seen friends blown away do yout hink it doesn't help me to listen to metallica, or iron maiden, slipknot, drowning pool or rammstein??? It does as someone said, pumps you up, the same way some of you who may get off your asses and go into the real world use your iPods in the gym, music is emotive and if it helps what's the problem, you don't like it, get up serve and fight do what you have to to survive!!!!!

What a bunch of ungrateful, whining little bastar**!!!!!!!!!!

And for the record it's not just American forces out there, you do realise that British forces are out there too!?!??! And if you want to stand toe to toe with an Army let's see who'd win? Because why we'd be fighting each other, China or Russia would swoop in and blow us all the f*** up!

So unless you have something intelligent to say with background knowledge in the field of serving your country or even as a music theorist then STFU!!! Grow a pair!!!!

Your right dude. I don't think anyone here has ever step foot in iraq. I have friend who I consider as my brothers get popped in front of me. Iraq is no joke. You guys should realize that us soldiers choose to fight for our country's freedom. And for the record we hook our ipods to the aux jack in the humvees and it plays through the speakers. Oh and my combat track of choice is "beat it" by our belove king of pop.

Go Army

Agreed that there's an awful lot of downright shameful, disrespectful posts in this thread.

In any case, as long as soldiers aren't wearing earbuds/headphones that prevent effective communication on the battlefield, I don't really see any problem. Please tell me that's not the case...

typically the music is hooked up to the infantry's headsets, and they listen while cruising in the humvees.

the soldiers have to become inhuman so they can do inhuman things.

I wonder if Dragonforce's album Inhuman Rampage is popular over there?

eheh well i would imagine myself listening to Ride of the Valkyries from Wagner , if i would be flying a chopper like in Apocalipse Now

It's not that service men/women listen to music on the battle field, albeit that there is such a person known as a "Music theorist." What next. . .a theorist to study other theorist? When was the need for this Educational position determined, or is it just another one of those some one made up so they could get a Government Grant?

neufuse said,
wouldn't this cause a distraction that could be deadly?


You do, of course, realize that there are such things as 'speakers', and soldiers don't typically spend 24/7 out fighting. They do have some down time.

Mega Goatlord said,
You do, of course, realize that there are such things as 'speakers', and soldiers don't typically spend 24/7 out fighting. They do have some down time.

The article title, which may be incorrect, clearly states soldiers' use of iPods on the battlefield. ("American soldiers use iPods on the battlefield")

V-99 ODST said,
Yeah so much for America's finest.


...and your country's army is where on the ranks of top forces in the world?

RAID 0 said,
...and your country's army is where on the ranks of top forces in the world?

Yay, time for a ****ing contest! I wonder whose dad can beat up who!

They're not sitting there analyzing the composition of the music. It's just playing the background; hell they don't even have to be really listening to it either.

I take it you have trouble doing any of the following: driving a car while listening to music; dancing while listening to music; operating an elevator while listening to music; paying attention to the plot of a movie while the soundtrack plays; doing any sport while listening to music; et cetera.