Sounds of the Modern Hospital

Sonograph Sound Effects Series Vol.1 LP
meagre resource / mere025 (2014)

‘Sounds of the Modern Hospital’ is a long-playing sound effects record in a limited edition of 250 copies. The record was produced by Mark Vernon during a two year period as digital artist in residence at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, Scotland.

The sounds featured on the LP were recorded in several different hospital departments including: Anaesthesiology, the Clinical Simulation Centre, Health Records, Outpatients reception, the Laboratories, Ophthalmology, Oral and Maxillofacial, Radiology, Nuclear Medicine, the Mail Room, the Neonatal Unit, Pharmacy and the Renal Unit. In addition to Forth Valley Royal, recordings were also made in Stirling and Falkirk Community Hospitals. Thanks to all staff and patients in NHS Forth Valley Hospitals for their help and co-operation.

The record is in part an homage to classic ranges of sound effects albums such as the BBC Sound Effects Library. Generic collections of sounds selected to fulfil the needs of professional and amateur broadcasters, filmmakers and theatre producers. They were also unintentional time capsules of everyday sounds at a specific moment in history. Nowadays commercial sound effects libraries exist in the digital realm and sound effects on vinyl are regarded as an anachronism, a faded audio Polaroid of a less sophisticated past.

Packaged in a retro-styled, obsolete format but featuring the sounds of a state of the art contemporary hospital seems to be a contradictory move but can be interpreted as a comment on the transitory and ever-changing nature of technology and the sonic environment. Particularly in a hospital environment that relies both on technological advances and public funding, it is difficult to predict how alien, quaint or even reassuringly nostalgic these sounds will appear to the listener in the next decade.

All recordings by Mark Vernon 2011 – 2013.

Sleeve design by Marc Baines. Label artwork by Keppie Design.

This project was supported by Creative Scotland and NHS Forth Valley.



“…each brief sonic episode has been laid down, showcased and positioned with a degree of calibration and precision that is just perfect.”
Ed Pinsent, Sound Projector.

“…it becomes impossible not to embed these noises into an imagined whole, an alien sort of environment which, nonetheless, we’ve come to rely on. Those cool, detached beeps need to be warmed up to one of these days.”
Brian Olewnick.

“…an excellent listening experience. Topped with a great sound effects cover, this is a great record. Another time machine.”
Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly.

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