Symphony of Dissonance: Sonic Nightmare of Nguyen Duy Tri’s Put Your Mood on

Imagine a world where sound is no longer just audible vibrations, but a weaponized tool to control mood, suppress dissent, and reshape reality itself. This is the unsettling premise of Nguyen Duy Tri’s “Put Your Mood On,” a story featured in the dystopian anthology “Acid Madness” (2023). Through a chilling exploration of sonic manipulation and its psychological repercussions, Tri compels us to question the power of sound, the insidious nature of control, and the very concept of individual identity in a world where even our emotions are dictated by external forces.

The Orchestrated City

In Tri’s meticulously crafted dystopia, the city pulsates with a constant, omnipresent soundscape. Every street corner emits tailored frequencies, designed to induce specific moods in the populace: contentment, productivity, and even blind obedience. These “Mood Tunes,” controlled by the enigmatic entity known as The Conductor, dictate the emotional atmosphere of the city, effectively rendering its inhabitants mere pawns in a grand sonic manipulation experiment.

A Discordant Dissonance

The protagonist, a music student named Kaia, stands as a defiant anomaly in this orchestrated metropolis. Possessing a rare sensitivity to frequencies, Kaia experiences the Mood Tunes not as soothing melodies, but as grating dissonances that trigger physical and emotional distress. This dissonance becomes her rebellion, fueling her desire to understand The Conductor’s motives and ultimately, to reclaim control over her own emotions.

Echoes of a Lost Freedom

Through Kaia’s journey, Tri explores the erosion of individual autonomy in a society controlled by sonic manipulation. The absence of silence, and the constant intrusion of external emotional directives, effectively strip individuals of their ability to experience genuine, uncensored emotions. Kaia’s quest for solace becomes a search for authenticity, a desperate attempt to rediscover the forgotten melody of her inner voice.

The Symphony of Dissent

As Kaia delves deeper into the city’s sonic underbelly, she discovers a network of rebels, fellow “Misfits” who, like her, experience the Mood Tunes as discordant noise. Together, they embark on a perilous mission to disrupt the city’s orchestrated harmony, unleashing their improvised counter-melodies to challenge The Conductor’s control. Their musical dissent becomes a potent symbol of resistance, a symphony of rebellion against the suffocating conformity imposed by the orchestrated city.

The Unmasking of the Conductor

The climax of the story sees Kaia confronting The Conductor, unveiling the entity behind the sonic tyranny. This confrontation delves into the philosophical heart of the narrative, prompting us to question the source of our emotions, the nature of free will, and the delicate balance between individual expression and societal control.

A Lingering Symphony

“Put Your Mood On” concludes on a haunting note, leaving the reader to ponder the future of a world forever tainted by the weaponization of sound. The story’s unsettling resonance lingers long after the final page, reminding us of the power of sonic manipulation in shaping not only our moods but our very perception of reality. It serves as a stark warning against the insidious control of information and the importance of safeguarding our right to experience the full spectrum of human emotions, however discordant they may be.


“Put Your Mood On” reverberates long after the final note fades, leaving us grappling with the chilling implications of a world where emotions are orchestrated and individuality is systematically eroded. Tri’s masterful use of sound as a narrative tool forces us to confront the insidious nature of control, the fragility of free will, and the enduring human desire for authentic expression. Kaia’s discordant symphony of dissent serves as a poignant reminder that even in the face of orchestrated silence, the human spirit can still find its voice, however rebellious that song may be.


  • What genre is “Put Your Mood On”?

The story blends elements of dystopian fiction, science fiction, and psychological horror, creating a unique and unsettling narrative experience.

  • Is the story violent?

While not explicitly violent, the story deals with themes of psychological manipulation and societal control, which some readers may find disturbing.

  • Is there a clear protagonist and antagonist?

The lines between protagonist and antagonist are blurred, with Kaia and The Conductor representing opposing perspectives on the power and manipulation of sound.

  • Does the story have a happy ending?

The ending is ambiguous and open to interpretation, allowing the reader to ponder the future of the characters and the dystopian world they inhabit.

  • Where can I find the book?

“Put Your Mood On” is available within the “Acid Madness” anthology, which can be found online or at major bookstores.

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