Most of the time we are oblivious to the sounds inside us, but the body is in fact very noisy. It has a rich and varied ‘soundscape’. The flow of blood pumping through veins and arteries, air passing through the lungs, and the movement of matter through the gut, all create different sounds.
Auscultation is the practice of listening to the body, typically with a stethoscope, in order to reach a clinical diagnosis. This is something almost everyone will have encountered during a visit to the doctor. Listening to the body changes our perception of it. The body is no longer a ‘thing’ to be viewed or dissected. Instead, it becomes a dynamic acoustic space that requires highly developed auditory skills to understand. Auscultation allows sounds from inside the body to pour out into the world, extending bodily boundaries delimited by the skin.