My Music, My War: The Listening Habits of U.S. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan

By Burns, Richard Allen | Journal of American Folklore, Spring 2018 | Go to article overview

My Music, My War: The Listening Habits of U.S. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan


Burns, Richard Allen, Journal of American Folklore


My Music, My War: The Listening Habits of U.S. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. By Lisa Gilman. (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2016. Pp. ix + 248, 4 black-and-white illustrations, notes, references, index.)

My Music, My War is a wonderful addition to the scholarship on military folklore that Lisa Gilman and others have pursued since Bruce Jackson's 1989 JAF special issue (vol. 102, no. 406) on Vietnam, a war that received considerable resistance both at home and on the battlefield. Building on the work of such scholars as Lydia Fish and Carol Burke on Vietnam, Gilman has given us an even greater understanding of the importance of music among soldiers who compose, record, and share their musiclistening preferences while overseas. unlike previous work, however, this study covers a time when technology now allows soldiers to access expressive forms in almost limitless ways. Gilman's approach in this ethnography is based on the notion of "situated listening," examining troops' musical practices of listening in order to shed light on the ways soldiers constitute their identities during war.

On the book's cover is a photo of a soldier listening to his iPod through a pair of earphones while awaiting his next assignment. The soldier is engaged in situated listening, a term Gilman uses to describe soldiers' listening to recordings that connect with their immediate context, whether during combat, during a period of rest, and so on. Such listening often includes members of one's group when individuals engage in activities that invite certain musical choices that often contribute to group cohesion while group members focus on specific tasks, as Gilman's study demonstrates. Clearly, the ability of a soldier's auditory system to localize sound sources via an iPod is just one component of his or her perceptual systems necessary for survival. Manipulating those sources according to one's immediate needs helps listeners attend to a range of situations and emotional needs while in a combat zone.

Gilman interviewed many active military personnel and veterans by phone, email, and Skype. Observing and interviewing soldiers between deployments to combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, she focuses her study on "musical engagement" (p. x), which offers listeners a psychological escape while focusing on military duties. This could include those struggling to cope with their own identity as soldiers while seeking acceptance into the many folk groups within the military. Her study includes soldiers from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. The reader quickly realizes the power of music to move soldiers to action during combat, to reduce stress, and to express concerns, anxieties, fears, and loneliness while based far away from loved ones. Listening to music has the potential to transport at-risk soldiers from a combat zone to a different reality. Gilman is well aware of the power that music can have for listeners who are desperately seeking solace in the midst of chaotic environments or a way to decompress from traumatic experiences. Early in the book, Gilman describes the typical settings in which soldiers have opportunities to listen to and share music. She notes how technological advances have led to newer forms of transmission (especially of MP3 files) that enable soldiers to listen to music when they do not share the same tastes as others in their troop. She then describes how music in a war zone may serve its listeners as a way to manage their gender and their masculinity.

The musical preferences of the soldiers Gilman studied varied widely: from the patriotic lyrics of country and western, which underscore one's duty to fight for one's country, to the anti-establishment and even anti-American sentiments of punk rock and heavy metal. As Gilman notes, demographics play an important part in accounting for the popularity of certain musical genres, such as heavy metal and rap, among young male soldiers. "In addition to men dominating the scenes as performers," she writes, "other dimensions of the music also accentuate hypermasculinity" (p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

My Music, My War: The Listening Habits of U.S. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.