Why the ‘Brown Note’ Was Never a Real Thing for Riot Control

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Brown Note

The brown note. The ultimate in non-lethal riot control devices. A single blast could incapacitate assailants, leaving them vomiting or defecating all over themselves.

Protesters around the world have reported that they soiled themselves because of it. There was even an episode of South Park dedicated to this sound.

Except it was a total lie.

The myth states that when hearing 153.0 Hz at a thunderous volume, your guts will shake to the point where you can’t control your bowels. Jaime Hyneman and Adam Savage of “MythBusters” busted this all the way back in 2005.

Savage, who conducted the test, felt the long waves vibrating through him and it felt awkward. Yet, the show concludes that a sound alone couldn’t make you crap your pants.

“Even with the help of some of the world’s best audio technicians, the MythBusters just couldn’t produce the brown note,” concludes the narrator, Robert Lee.

There is no way to literally shake the brown out of you with sound. That we know of.

Mythbusters brown note
(Screengrab via YouTube)

However, this isn’t the only time anyone conceived of and developed sound as a weapon.

The use of sound weapons has been a concept that has been in development stage since 1944. Currently, the military and law enforcement both use the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD). The LRAD is a non-lethal loud speaker that works more as a mass notification system than a weapon.

Brown Note Navy
Yeah. That’ll amplify a bit. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications 3rd Class David A. Cox)

Sound has more of a psychological effect than physical. Instead of a specific frequency, it’s songs that have a long history in psychological warfare.

Brown Note Vietnam

In the Vietnam War, troops played “Ghost Tape Number Ten.” They would blast it from helicopters and loudspeakers at the dead of night in deep in the jungle. The tape played funeral music and heavy-distorted voices that sound like ghosts.

In Vietnamese, the “ghost” would say eerie things such as “My friend, I come back to tell you I am dead,” and “Go home, my friend, before it’s too late.”

Watch “MythBusters” break down why the brown note just doesn’t work:

 


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