nl en

Sonic Warfare, Sonic Branding, Sonic Drugs


Admission requirements


More and more the Military–industrial complex (MIC) investigates how sounds can be used to manipulate human behavior. Sonic weapons are already used by several armies to eliminate adversaries. A milder form of sonic warfare is the introduction of the so-called Mosquito to chase away ‘inconveniencing youth’ from public spaces such as playgrounds, shopping malls, parks, and school grounds.
But on many more levels, human acting is directed by (unconscious) sonic (in)formation. Sonic Branding and sonification are currently active design strategies to catalyze the motivation to consume. From Muzak, advertising jingles, and sound logos to ringtones and sounds for gaming devices, sonic branding entails an intervention into the affective sensorium’s mnemonic system. And even Sonic Drugs enter stage: i-Dosing, based on binaural beats is winning ground in today’s youth culture and nightlife.

Course objectives

  1. The student is introduced to thoughts about the way sounds are influencing and manipulating human behavior.
    1. The student develops a new attitude to sonic branding, muzak, and sonic ‘weapons’.
    2. The student learns how to read scientific and philosophical texts. S/he practices so-called ‘close reading’.
    3. S/he learns to think about the sonic environment from philosophical, sociological, historical, and aesthetical perspectives.
    4. The student is able to rethink former attitudes towards sounds. This enlarges her/his view on her/his aural environment.


Lipsius building, room 235.C, Mondays from 15.00 to 17.00
First lecture date t.b.a.

Mode of instruction

Lecture and tutorial

Assessment method

Written examination with essay questions.



Reading list

Goodman, S. (2010) Sonic Warfare. Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear. Cambridge (MA): MIT Press.


Tim Soekkha

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Marcel Cobussen