Sounding Bodies | Peter Pesic

October 11, 2022

Published by the MIT Press, Peter Pesic’s new book, Sounding Bodies: Music and the Making of Biomedical Science, completes a trilogy on the influence of music on the sciences. A long-time tutor at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, he is Director of the Science Institute and Musician-in-Residence.

In Sounding Bodies, Pesic writes that, starting in ancient Greece, “music and sound significantly affected the development of the biomedical sciences.” He explains that music and sound provided important tools for hearing, understanding, and influencing the rhythms of life. Sounding Bodies follows Pesic’s Music and the Making of Modern Science and Polyphonic Minds to complete a trilogy on the influence of music on the sciences.

“Music and sound deeply influenced medicine and biology,” says Pesic. “Over thousands of years physicians began listening to the body to reveal its invisible workings.”

Heropholis of Chalcedon was a physician in Alexandria and a pioneering anatomist. “He’s one of the heroes of my book,” says Pesic. “He applied ideas about musical ratios to the rhythms of the pulse. Interestingly he was also the first person to train a woman to practice medicine.”

“One hundred years ago Edgar Adrian, physiologist and Nobel Prize winner, began listening through loudspeakers to the electrical signals of nerves to understand how exactly they fired. His technique remains in use today, in the search to understand the universal rhythmic code of the brain and nervous systems of all animals.”