A Study on Music for Vets

If you are an OIF/OEF vet, please strongly consider taking a survey from an USC graduate student on the use of music in wartime. (Click on the bottom right button to start. And yes, I am linking to a dreaded Trojan.) Here is her request:


My name is Rebecca Johnson and I am a graduate student at The University of Southern California where, under the supervision of Professor Peter Monge of the Annenberg School of Communication, I am conducting research into the ways in which military personnel use music when on active duty. It is important that you know how much we appreciate the service and personal sacrifice that you have made. The study is to help deepen our understanding of the role music plays in the life of deployed members of the armed forces.

I am asking volunteers who were/are deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan post-9/11 to anonymously complete a 10 minute online survey consisting of questions about various situations in which you use or used music or reasons why you listened to music. You can decline to answer any questions for any reason and can withdraw from participating at any time by simply not submitting your responses. There are no known or anticipated risks from participating in this type of study.

Any and all information that you provide will be anonymous. The website is programmed to collect responses alone and will not collect any information that could potentially identify you.

If you are willing to participate please visit the survey. If you know anyone else who might be interested in participating, please forward this information.

Please contact me by email at rljohnso@usc.edushould you have any questions about the study, which is being conducted in compliance with ethical guidelines established by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) here at USC. You can learn more about IRB at their website:

Thank you for considering this study for your participation.

Rebecca Johnson

7 thoughts on “A Study on Music for Vets”

  1. For me, a little hard to follow. And I think the researchers want to find out someting bad about the Army. Last like we are all emotional when we listen to music.

  2. All I see is another useless and pointless program our Federal government spends taxpayer dollars on…and I have to agree with 97ECHO…it only makes sense that academe which has a naturally recurring leftist meme would intentionally be trying to prove something that coincides with their bad vibes about the military establishment…who knows what convoluted conclusions they may draw but I can’t help but think they certainly have something in mind and it doesn’t portend well for the military…..they will always end up with the short end…..k

  3. With regard to the military and Mood Music.

    I do have an axe to grind over music conveyed through personal headphones, especially in forward operating areas or areas of hostile intent. This also includes ‘mil’ drivers in convoy or operating heavy plant.

    In addition to this I would also like to see common ground established over the use of such by cyclists, bikers, drivers, runners & walkers (of which I fall into each category).
    But as usual I digress and will keep my thoughts and powder dry until provoked.

    In My Humble Opinion.

    Prior to a patrol or a military evolution into a hostile environment, heavy use of personal music should be monitored with a cut off time preset and factored in to the patrols departure.

    ‘Zoning in’ through mood music can/will/does have an impact on an individual, which is a fact borne through various reported incidents, some of which have resulted in fatalities. By ‘zoning’ in, not only have you subconsciously planted tracks into your mind, you have also subconsciously planted a theme for your individual thought pattern.

    Thought patterns relating to subconscious ‘intake’ can last for hours. It has been proven that such subconscious thought patterns reduce an individual’s reaction time, (especially when a long patrol turns into a ‘thumb-up-bum-mind-in-neutral’ evolution). It takes the ‘crack & thump’ of incoming, or the scream of a patrol commander to some times bring that individual back to reality.

    There are specific reasons why ipods are not built in to the cab of a multi million dollar fast jet/chopper, or found on the bridge of a nuclear powered aircraft carrier/submarine etc, etc. (People in charge of such beasts are required to be alert at all times and not districted by the likes of ‘Cliff Richards’ top 100 hits)!

    This theory is born through a survey into muscle music, (music played during a gym work out). Obviously the tunes selected reflect upon the work out due to be undertaken as they are required to ‘zone in’; or for cycle/treadmill users to ‘zone out’ to ensure time passes more quickly.

    This also goes for individuals who partake in ‘shoot-em-up-and-kill-em-all’ war-games who endure hours on a games consul prior to a patrol/sentry duty/ watch-keeper routine.
    (In the past I have stood a marine down from a patrol due to him being too psyched up through receiving a ‘Dear John’ from home. He could have been the weak link at a time when he was required to be the mainstay).

    I have witnessed military personal playing heavy-duty realistic war-games for hours, then saddling up for a night patrol… they were so pumped up and ready to go for it that they were a liability to one and all. It was not my call to stand them down, but I made my feelings be known at the time.

    It is no coincidence that the music implanted within the ‘shoot-em-up-and-kill-em-all’ war-game has been done so by experts from within the music industry; it supplies an ambient back ground sound to filter in with the carnage and slaughter; as well as subconsciously plants the theme into the individual’s grey matter, who then goes out and buys the sound track. (Upon which they play prior to a patrol, etc, etc)…

    Controlled Mood Music has long been the ‘instrument’ used for passing the time away whilst conducting mediocre tasks, it is also a way to gel & bond a team together.

    The first use of music as a form of recuperation and mental well-being was trialled by the WW1 Army Medical Corps. ‘Shell-shock’ (PTSD) was an unknown quantity of the day; group therapy with music played subconsciously in the background allowed men to recover gradually without the use of hallucinogenic drugs.

    Quick dit.
    Due to my work within the Corps I had to attend a 12-week course that averaged a 70% failure rate. I spoke with one of my mates who had previously nose dived on the same course, and listened in horror as he explained the daily lecture routine and evening workload that was endured by all. (I was never a classroom warrior, the field was my calling)!

    To assist my intake of data I bought a decent ‘SONY’ recorder and literally recorded the course syllabus into it. Instead of studying long hours into the night I would fall asleep listening to the pre-recorded relevant workload, allowing my subconscious ‘matter’ to absorb and process the material.

    I hit a high pass and the world was beautiful…

    (I’ve always had a theory about subconscious memory training as I knew my ‘1 to 12 times tables’ through learning parrot fashion from my Gran who used to ‘sing’ it to me; I was 4 years old and could repeat it without fault).

    When I entered the ‘dark side’ of the military I encountered the harsh reality of ‘white noise’. After being on the receiving end my instructor explained that it was flat sound in its rawest form, without the major aspects of music such as scales, regular beat and harmony; in essence it is a super stimulus used to control and confuse the brain. (Psychiatrists are required to monitor the process when it is used as it can so easily flip a person to a depth of no return).

    Earlier I forwarded an e-mail to Rebecca Johnson placing some material for her use. I also volunteered my service in any ‘which way or form’ as I do think there is a strong link between Mood Music and the ‘well being’ of the Military at large.

    If such a link is proven and it saves loss of life as well as assist those suffering with PTSD, then it is more than a worthy cause of which I think you will all agree.

    Yours Aye.

  4. Interesting analysis, Ex Bootneck and from your previous anecdotal observations and evidence, more than likely spot on…I did not take the test and just had a negative initial reaction…in addition to which I was never in the situation or circumstance to understand the rationale for such testing and as a female military member, for the moment, anyway am unlikely to ever have that opportunity…it isn’t likely many woman will be provided with such a chance as it is….I have a short fuse when it comes to academic exercises that are trying to prove something and especially when I’m not given the background, the whys and wherefores…you have made many good points….and it should be noted…thank you for the heads up….k

  5. EB: Very interesting. I will echo your refrain and warning about playing music as a distraction. One of my SERE classmates told me he listens to his iPod when he flies his F-18.
    Kris: You have a short fuse? I don’t believe it. . . (Heh, I actually never thought about it, but it sounded funny. . .)

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