Paper on the sound of asymmetrical warfare delivered at Music and Sound Design for the Screen Conference, Maynooth University 2019

Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 20.57.37Ongoing work drawn from a forthcoming book for Palgrave delivered as a paper at the Music and Sound Design for the Screen, at Maynooth University in Ireland, September 2019. Enjoyed this terrific conference of musicologists and film production analysis – some great papers, and terrific to see familiar faces and meet some new film sound scholars. Helpful to work out what’s next for the book chapter, and also got a tiny bit of campus envy at the beautiful Maynooth campus, situated near Dublin.


Screen Shot 2019-03-24 at 19.12.36Contemporary warfare has been characterised as asymmetrical; with 21st century conflict zones of Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq distinguished from the “old wars” of the 20th century in terms of their politics, use of technology, combat tactics and mediated representation (Kaldor 2012). Joshua Clover has described such conflicts as presenting an “unnarratability” (2009: 9).

In response, this paper demonstrates the manner with which narrative feature filmmakers have adopted innovative production practices and sophisticated combinations of sound design, cinematography and visual editing – which I characterise as a Gulf War Aesthetic. I argue that these techniques developed during the first Gulf War in order to produce a sense of authenticity in cinema and that this is achieved through the emulation of transmedia representations of violence and conflict – drawing upon other media including news reportage, documentary, video games and first-person footage originated by combatants and non-combatants.

About Kingsley Marshall

Dr Kingsley Marshall is a film composer, producer and academic. Head of Film & Television at the CILECT accredited School of Film & Television based within Falmouth University in the UK, the subject area consists of 25 staff working with 500 undergraduates, supplemented by a postgraduate community studying from MA level through to PhD. Kingsley’s research and practice primarily orientates around the use of sound (including music and effects) in cinema and television, and the production of short and micro-budget feature films. He executive produced Wilderness (Director: Justin John Doherty, 2017) which won 13 awards at international film festivals since making its premiere at Cinequest, and Mr Whippy (Director: Rachna Suri, 2019). In 2018 he co-produced with Neil Fox the short literary adaptation Backwoods (Director: Ryan Mackfall, 2019), premiering in Portland, Orgeon and winning the HP Lovecraft award at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. More recently, Kingsley recently completed the score as composer on a film project - Hard, Cracked the Wind - with director Mark Jenkin and production company Early Day Films. The film premiered at Encounters Film Festival in September 2019, and has since played festivals across the world including New York Film Festival. For over twenty years he has worked as a journalist, interviewing filmmakers, musicians, and designers for over 30 publications and broadcasters worldwide, written album sleeve notes and biographies for over 100 artists, and contributed to anthologies on hip hop and soul. He can be found on Twitter as @kingsleydc