|Music alum publishes book on music and war
April 29, 2009
Jonathan Pieslak ’96, Davidson alumnus, is a composer, electric bassist, and Associate Professor at the City College of New York and the Graduate Center, CUNY, where he teaches composition (both classical and pop), theory, orchestration, and counterpoint. Some of his music can be found at www.myspace.com/jpieslak
His work as a scholar has focused on critical theory, rhythm and meter in the music of Meshuggah (the Swedish metal band), and music and American soldiers in Iraq. His work on Meshuggah appeared in Music Theory Spectrum (2007), and has subsequently been featured in Guitar World, Playback, and other magazines.
Pieslak is the author of Sound Targets: American Soldiers and Music in the Iraq War, recently published by Indiana University Press.
Though a part of American soldiers' lives since the Revolutionary War, by World War II music could be broadcast to the front. Today it accompanies soldiers from the recruiting office to the battlefield. For this book, Jonathan Pieslak interviewed returning veterans to learn about the place of music in the Iraq War and in contemporary American military culture in general. Pieslak describes how American soldiers hear, share, use, and produce music both on and off duty. He studies the role of music from recruitment campaigns and basic training to its use 'in country' before and during missions. Pieslak explores themes of power, chaos, violence, and survival in the metal and hip-hop music so popular among the troops, and offers insight into the daily lives of American soldiers in the Middle East.
"Sound Targets reveals just how pervasively popular music has shaped contemporary U.S. military culture... This thoughtful and provocative study will certainly attract a wide audience concerned with music's roles in the time of war." W. Anthony Sheppard, author of Revealing Masks: Exotic Influences and Ritualized Performance in Modernist Music Theater.
For video and interviews, go to www.soundtargets.com/