I’m led into a modest clinic, disinfected, spartan, imposing. A large nuclear magnetic resonance imaging device takes centre stage. I am told to lie down on a table , hold my arms in a fixed position, place my chin on a poystyrene pad and not to move. Apparently all my hydrogen ions are about to cajoled to spin in one direction – altogether now. The ones in my water molecules will spin at a different rate than the ones in my lipid molecules and they – the nurses, not the molecules – will be able to determine how healthy I am and whether I’ve spent to much time in the bar in recent years.
Slowly, the slab I’m on enters the machine and the chorus of clicks whirrs thuds hums and clanks kicks off. It’s like living in a Kraftwerk album, but in one of the lesser, in progress tracks. But its not unpleasurable. Intriguing with a laser green light just a few inches above your head and reminiscent of the Expo 2000 track they produced.
The clicks whirrs and thumps continue at regular intervals until the slab rolls back out of the machine. I’m told to turn over, tuck that in, loosen that and don’t forget to breathe. The process starts again for a further 10 minutes. This time you’re given head phones as the sound can reach upto 120 decibels apparently. Something you might be familiar with smirks the nurse.
On the way out of the clinic you realise that you have just been examined by a Magnetom Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine which goes under the delightful name of the Symphony Maestro.
I don’t know why I’m surprised. The whole event has been a sub-orchestral event with some very low bass notes played in counterpoint to some ultra ultra high frequencies which only the local sewer rats can hear. It has been Kraftwerk at their most uninspiring. But fundamentally, this has been a musical event, not a medical one.
I realise I am used to Kraftwerk making all kinds of molecules vibrate in all kinds of ways in recent years and reckon that the health information you could gather from listening to Tour de France for an hour would yield much better health benefits than the diagnostics the Symphony Maestro will be able to generate.
The event emphasises that the connections between arts and health – and in particular music – are closer than many nurses and doctors might like to admit to. Music is my first love warbled John Miles many years ago; this may be true but it might be more accurate to say that it is also our first way of connecting with the world through how its frequencies make our molecular structures resonate: although that would hardly be the title of a top ten hit, now, would it?