Body of Music debuts

Posted on Dec 16, 2013 | 0 comments

Anatomy and Physiology student Chelsey Harding works in a clinic where many patients suffer from back pain.

Patrick Stowe and Ben Will are audio technology students. Neither have set foot in a biology classroom. But when Harding described the feeling of degenerative disk disease as “grinding,” Stowe and Will got it.

They produced a three-minute piece that interpreted the disease musically.  It starts out upbeat New Age, with an even beat, symbolic of health. There’s the sound of a wave crashing on a beach. Around the one-minute mark,  a few minor notes are heard. The beat speeds up. The New Age sound morphs to a high-pitched, techno style that abruptly sputters out and dies.

“It’s the soundtrack of what they’re feeling,” Harding said

Harding, Stowe and Will were among about thirty students who recently presented “Body of Music,” a collaborative musical interpretation of six different conditions and systems of the body and the culmination of a cross-curricular project that began in October.

Anatomy and Physiology instructor Nick Roster assigned his 20 students to work in small groups with the audio

Anatomy & Physiology students applaud after listening to an audio interpretation of pregnancy by Audio Technology students.

Anatomy & Physiology students applaud after listening to an audio interpretation of pregnancy by Audio Technology students.

technology students. Each A&P group had to explain a system, disease or condition of the body.

The assignment is intended to simulate what students will face on the job, when they need to deploy their education, often in a health care setting, Roster said.

“I expect them to be able to teach, to explain difficult concepts to people with no background,” Roster said. “A lot of them are going to be nurses, and they’re going to be asked, ‘What does that mean?’ ”

One group of students who chose the nervous system explained that its function is partly due to electricity. Another group chose pregnancy, characterized by the dual heartbeats of mother and fetus.

After the lessons the Audio Technology students, using instruments, sound effects and editing technology, created musical pieces, each about three minutes long, which interpret those systems.

“The assignment from our side was to take that information and arrange it into a musical composition,” said audio technology instructor Steve Quick. He participated in the assignment, too, creating a composition for mitochondria, the energy source or batteries for human cells.

Body of Music won’t be Audio Tech’s first cross-disciplinary foray, either.

“It’s the first of what we hope are a number of unlikely pairings that we want to do with audio technology,” Quick said. One idea for what comes next – a collaboration with NMC’s Robotics division that would use audio to control and operate remote helicopters and cars, composing “a symphony of movement.”

Listen to more Body of Music compositions:

Homeostasis (health) disrupted by the HIV virus:


Nervous system:

Immune system:


Circulatory system:

Read more about NMC’s Audio Technology program >>

Read more about NMC’s nursing program>>

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