Music and Sound Studies: Musical Destruction, with Matt Sumera, Feb 28, 2014
Audiovisual Nodes of Musical Destruction
Friday, February 28, 2014, at 3:00 pm
Ferguson Hall, Room 280
What role do sound and music play in representations of U.S.-led conflict and collective violence? This presentation sets out to answer this question. Through an ethnographically-informed analysis of three primary media–war films, video games, and soldier-made viral videos–I develop a sound studies-based critique of contemporary U.S. warscapes, and I explore their affective power and resonances. In particular, I examine the merging of music and sound effects, the aestheticized soundings of onscreen combat, and the intentional deployment of the resulting forms of musical destruction by what James Der Derian has called the Military-Industrial-Media-Entertainment-Network (MIME-NET). In so doing, I situate sound and music at the center of post-9-11 militarized audiovisions, and my approach serves as both a complement to and critique of contemporary scholarship that remains primarily focused on war’s visual culture. If we want to understand the impact and consequences of the last 13 years of unending war, I argue, we would do well first to listen.
Matthew Sumera completed his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013. His research addresses the connections between music, sound, and visual culture in the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the broader, post-9/11 Global War on Terror. He has published three articles from his dissertation, and the most recent, “Understanding the Pleasures of War’s Audiovisions,” can be found the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media. He is past co-chair of the Society for Ethnomusicology’s special interest group on music and violence, and has taught about the topic at UW-Madison. He is currently a lecturer at the University of Minnesota.