• Iraq Soundtrack

    March 30, 2010 | CUNY Lecture Series

    The power of music, whether to comfort or to stir emotions, has taken on a new dimension as soldiers plug into sounds like Metallica to psych themselves up for combat. For Colby Buzzell, a former Army specialist and Iraq War veteran, the “war soundtrack” on his iPod helped trigger a dark side. “I listened to heavy metal bands, like Slayer, to get the anger and adrenaline I needed for going into military missions,” said Buzzell, best-selling author of “My War: Killing Time in Iraq.” Buzzell was a panelist in a Graduate Center talk on “Music and the Iraq War,” moderated by City College music Prof. Jonathan Pieslak, author of “Sound Targets: American Soldiers and Music in Iraq.” Other panelists were New Yorker music critic Alex Ross and former Marine Sgt. Jason Sagabiel, whose compositions for the oud, a Middle Eastern string instrument, were inspired by Iraqi rhythms he heard during his deployment.
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  • The Power of Music in War

    September 14, 2009 | Book Beat, City College, Newsmakers

    For his new book “Sound Targets: American Soldiers and Music in the Iraq War,” Jonathan Pieslak, an associate professor of music at City College, interviewed soldiers who have served in Iraq to learn about the roles music they compose, write, and listen to, play in the war and in American military culture. “Some soldiers speak about how music puts them in a predatory mindset,” said Prof. Pieslak, who analyzed some of the troops’ original lyrics and explored the impact of certain musical genres, including heavy metal and rap, in contemporary military recruiting campaigns and in combat.
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