Some people say music soothes the souls. However, could it have an effect on small-scale fights? The scenario I'm wondering about is quite similar to Starlord from Guardians of the Galaxy: A human is lifted out of their trusted world, into another world. they carry with them a small library of digitized music from their era, which is unknown to the people in the new world. The difference with the Starlord scenario is that this human has a portable AI companion that can remix that music on the fly if needed. The human has experience in several martial arts and an excellent sense of rhythm.

Could this human use their library of music, combined with their AI companion and maybe new music from the era they ended up in, to gain an edge over similarly experienced enemies without the music? I'm talking about using the music itself, not the sound of music: the human is affected by extremely loud or annoying sounds just as much as their opponents.

I have seen Playing music during battle?, and the difference between these questions is that my question is more focused on small-scale battles involving melee combat, not large-scale warfare where the sound of war would just drown out the music. The intent of this question is: 2 small sides (1-5 people on each side), 1 song that both sides can hear. Can one side gain an advantage over the other side by playing the correct music, either through augmenting their own fighting or detracting from that of their opponent?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Have you seen this similar question? Are you just asking if this human gains a benefit by listening to music while fighting? Is it beling played through headphones or can the enemy hear it? $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Samuel I knew I forgot to add something. I clarified my question to explain what the difference is with that question you linked. I had seen that question, but that was more about 2 armies fighting a very loud battle. Mine is more about something like a thief invading a warehoue and having to incapacitate some security guards, or a superhero that needs to defeat a supervillain. $\endgroup$
    – Nzall
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ Have you ever watched Apocalypse Now? Here's the start of the battle scene where they blast Wagner's Ride of the Valkyrie at the VC to gain a psychological advantage ... is this what you're talking about? Did it really happen like that? Couldn't tell you ... would it work? IMHO, no doubt about it. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 0:23
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    $\begingroup$ Bagpipes at close range. I'm just sayin'... $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 3:34
  • $\begingroup$ They bombarded Noriega with heavy metal music until he gave up. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 16:28

3 Answers 3


Unless it's a dance battle, it's not beneficial.

The music would only serve to distract in a real battle. Unlike the movies, the fighting is not going to be choreographed/edited to be in time with the music. Trying to fight to the music would be a tactically poor decision. The enemies may not be familiar with waiting for the drop and thus anticipating an increase in the fight, but any rhythmic fighting style can be anticipated.

Further to address your comment:

Mine is more about something like a thief invading a [warehouse] and having to incapacitate some security guards, or a superhero that needs to defeat a supervillain.

The first case would be like Darth Vader trying to slip into a meeting; the Imperial March music gives him away every time. The second case has the same problems described above.

  • $\begingroup$ Vader could slip in despite the music. I'd think it be more of a "Don't you dare look at the guy coming in." $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ I think you misunderstood my thief example. I'm not talking about a sneaky approach: the guards already caught him and are trying to subdue the thief with 3-4 guards at once. $\endgroup$
    – Nzall
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 17:31

If you are plannig to use the music itself as a weapon, then several interesting effects can be had.

Using the AI to remix the music and aim a directional speaker set could be used to confuse/annoy the enemy, distracting them from what else is going on around them (i.e. you coming from behind with the broken pool stick).

If the Bass can be modulated properly, and the aliens/bad guys have the proper physiology, then you might be able to induce a "Brown Note", which will be quite distracting and pretty much end the fight right there (for fairly obvious reasons, you are probably not going to close with and grapple an enemy incapacitated by the "Brown Note" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_note).

More interestingly, you might be able to use the rhythmic portion of the mix to disrupt the enemy concentration, essentially inducing them to move to the rhythm that you set (or disrupting the rhythm that they are establishing). In an extreme case, you might be able to induce epileptic seizures, considerably simplifying the task at hand.

Of course the downside of all this is your sonic "super weapon" isn't going to be the size of an iPad mini. You will need speakers of considerable power and sophistication, as well as the AI to do the mixing and aiming. A device like an 80's era "Boom Box" might be the minimum size (although you would have to hand wave where the power for the device is coming from). Boom Box

More realistically would be the giant speaker sets that some people put in the back of customized cars. If you can arrange for the fight to happen in an IMAX theatre, then you have a 360 sound system with the sort of sophistication and power to really put a dent in the enemy (and if worse comes to worst, tear a speaker mount off the wall and nail them with that. The sound of ringing bells will certainly end the fight at that point.....)


Alien physiology could lead to a few interesting possibilities.

Humans choose music to supplement their planned activities. For instance playing something driving during a workout, or something soft and not distracting to study to, etc.

And there's a good reason. Listening to something with a fast rhythmic beat causes your heart to speed up a bit and respiration to increase, along with mental stimulation. Sedate music has a calming effect.

If the aliens physiology were more sensitive to audio stimulation, it could allow the traveler to get an edge.

It wouldn't even have to be audible. Using subliminal or ultra sonic sound, you could influence a target without them knowing. A parametric array could let you send music to one individual without anyone around them hearing it.

Having an AI with knowledge of alien physiology and the ability to create music that will cause a desired effect would be useful.


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