Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Duh, Listening!"*

From the "Music Is Everywhere" Department:

This week, Salon's medical columnist Rahul Parikh wrote a fascinating (if all-too brief) piece about the type of music surgeons listen to while they are in the Operating Room and why that choice matters. It immediately made us think of that St. Elsewhere episode with Ed Begley, Jr. listening to the Beach Boys in the OR while the mom from Growing Pains holds a gun on him. It also reminded us of the time 13 years ago when we were observing a father-to-daughter kidney transplant and noticed the unique way music affected the whole tense scene. An excerpt from our notes:

"How are our patients doing?" asks the Surgeon.
"They're good," the anaesthesiologist says. "They're strong."
"Okay, shall we dance?"
Their gloved fingers are dancing over the daughter's wound, which is by now diamond-shaped and about a foot wide. The surgeon is searching for any blood vessels that might be hiding around or under the kidney. It gets very quiet and everyone around the table steps in, and their tiny work sucks all the sound out of the room. As it gets silent it begins to get slightly hairy. The daughter's heartbeat begins to acclerate.
"You sure her pressure's, okay?"
"Yeah! One-fifty-five. I would not shit you on this one, Stu!"
Some drops a compact disc into the OR's intercom system and we hear the calming sounds of the Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider." While the kidney is being transported from body to body, it's "Dreams." By the time the kidney is hooked up and successfully pumping out toxins from the father's body, the OR staff high fives to the sounds of Dickey Betts' soloing on "Southbound."

The L.A. Times' Susan Salter-Reynolds reviewed a intiguing book titled Cricket Radio: Tuning In the Night-Singing Insects. Author John Himmelman studies the different songs and cadences of way Ensifera ("The Night Singers") like kaydids and crickets and how their "songs" affect the human psyche in many ways: psychologically, creatively, even sexually (yow!). "Areas rich in singing insects suggest a healthy habitat and a source of beauty," Reynolds writes. "We humans have shut down our listening skills to survive in a confusingly noisy world. Learning to listen to these songs is nothing less than soul-stirring." We've only just begun this book -- thanks Mr. Bezos! -- but were starting to see weird parallels in how singing insects hone their sound, pitch, volume in order to compete with each other. They are the freelance jazz musicians of the natural world.

*This will be the last Sharlie Cheen reference in this blog. Ever.

No comments:

Post a Comment