Sound surgeons

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 01 September 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:520
  1. Gavin Yamey, deputy editor (
  1. wjm—Western Journal of Medicine

    Gavin Yamey meets the musical duo Matmos, whose new album uses bodily sounds to comment on modern medicine

    For doctors, the noises made by the body—the heart, breath, and bowel sounds—are clues to its health or sickness. But for the electronic “sound artists” Matmos, the San Francisco based duo Drew Daniel and Martin Schmidt, these noises are music itself: notes, rhythms, and even whole melodies.

    Listen to their new album, A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure, and you'll hear the sounds of the body, and its surgical manipulation, sampled from clinics and operating theatres and fused with electronic beats to form a fascinating musical collage.

    It was, explained Drew, a “delicate process” building up the trust of the surgeons who eventually let the pair, and their digital recording equipment, into the operating rooms. The litigious United States environment, the fear of compromising the sterility of the surgery, and the thought of having a “couple of kids” messing around in …

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