live sound collage broadcasts

Auscultation: Sonic Diagnosis

Since the time of Hippocrates, physicians have listened to the human body in order to determine what ails it.  The original technique, termed “immediate auscultation,” involved the doctor simply placing their ear directly onto an area of a patient’s body and listening.   It was not until the invention of the stethoscope (the first was literally a rolled up piece of paper) that the practice of auscultation moved from the empirical to the ontological realm.  

With a more precise means of listening to the human body, a sonic language was discovered and cataloged.  Sounds the body made were connected to what was happening inside - an important feat in the days before X-rays, CT scans, or MRI.   The use of the stethoscope and the taxonomy of sounds attributed to both healthy and pathological bodies led to the development of an audio cartography from which the modern notion of disease was born- one that rather than being based upon symptoms was described by observation of the body.

Over 200 years later, the stethoscope is a symbol of the medical profession and its use the first stage of any physical examination.   

This edition of Special Collections explores the sounds of healthy and unhealthy human lungs.


Broadcast date: January 26th 2021
KCHUNG Los Angeles 1630AM

SPECIAL COLLECTIONS is a broadcast project by Sam Rowell.
Each edition is mixed live on the air.