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Morriston

Sounds of emergency department inspire instrumental music

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A medical student has been inspired by the sounds of Morriston Hospital’s Emergency Department to create a piece of music aimed at soothing colleagues and patients.

Former semi-professional musician Leo Polchar is in his final year of medical studies at Swansea University.

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He spent an afternoon in the busy department recording a range of sounds before composing the music and enlisting the help of instrument-playing colleagues to record a track titled Accident & Emergency.

The end result has seen the 29-year-old turn the tables on sounds such as bleeping, ringing, shouting, and trollies squeaking, which can often appear oppressive, through incorporating them into an uplifting score.

Leo said: “The idea came to me when we were tasked with doing a big project as part of our final year, with the option of doing something in the humanities.

“I was in ED hearing all these bleeps and things and thought, ‘Maybe I could make a piece of music out of this?’

“Compared to other placements it’s the hardest – it’s like a merry go round of stuff going on and you have to just jump on it and find your place in it all.

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“It’s such a loud, oppressive place where you hear all these different sounds – I liked the idea of taking something that a lot of people struggle with and try to make it into something that’s pleasant.

“I had worked for a few years, after my undergraduate studies, as a semi-professional musician, and have done a bit of composition before. I also currently play in a band called Distant Waters.”

Leo said he was grateful for the support of Swansea Bay’s Medical Illustrations team during the recording of the ED sounds, which he then incorporated into the musical track.

“I played the piano on the track, which is the main part, and there’s a few different cello parts, and some other instruments to give it a more orchestral feel.

“Some of my good friends, who are also final year medical students – Alice Arvidsson, who plays the flute, and Lewis Thelwell, who plays the trumpet – played parts I wrote for them.”

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With the track laid down, Leo is keen to hear the prognosis of its merits from a range of people, not least, those who work in ED.

He said: “One of the ED consultants gave me the best praise by saying that having worked in the department for so many years, she felt I had been able to transform the meaning behind the noises.

“Those who have reacted to it best are from the medical field – those who recognise the noises react to it more profoundly.

“I just hope that people enjoy it.

“If it’s well received perhaps we could publicise a link to the track and people can listen to it on their phones while waiting in ED.”

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Sue West-Jones, a consultant in ED, said the music was ‘simply wonderful’.

She added: “These are sounds which have filled my life as an ED clinician – very powerful sounds that can easily add to the stress of my role, but Leo has given them beauty and clarity.

“It is very emotional. It conveys the intensity of the noise of the department yet turns the noise into the sounds of life, sounds that save lives and sounds that sometimes describe the ebb of life.”

(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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