Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Symphony of life: making music out of the human genome


Source: Gaurdian.co.uk
Michael Zev Gordon
Retrieved from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/jun/24/dna-genome-music-michael-zev-gordon

Summary:
Genetics and music are not the most obvious bed-fellows, but we are living in a time of unlikely couplings! Looking for common ground between art and science is increasingly popular, so when, in early 2009, I was asked to write a piece of music that would be part of a Wellcome Trust research project into the genetics of musical ability, I jumped at the chance, because the patterns of the human genome – made of a series of chemical "bases" that can be symbolised as four letters, A (Adenine), T (Thymine), C (Cytosine) and G (Guanine) – looked like chains of notes. It was perfect raw material.
It took me time to get my head around the science involved. Things crystallised when I began to map a segment of common sequence leading up to my chosen polymorphism – A, C and A on to the same musical note-names; then T – "ti' in the doh-re-mi solfège system – on to B, and so on. Adding a supple rhythm, I arrived, to my surprise, at something that sounded quite like plainsong: it became the initial gesture of the piece...

Reflection:
This relatively long article is written by "Michael Zev Gordon" about his experience in translating a part of DNA of Choir singers into music which is performed by them.
It has been a decade that some scientists and musicians are trying to show that each gene has its own music.
Aurora Sánchez Sousa, a microbiologist who specializes in fungi at Madrid’s Ramón y Cajal Hospital is another scientist who translated DNA sequences into musical notation. Then her collaborator, French composer Richard Krull, set them to music.
http://www.genomamusic.com/
There are some other links as well that you can hear the music of different genes. Here is for instance the link that you can download the music of Oxytocin's gene ( Oxytocin is a hormone that helps childbirth by inducing contraction in uterus muscle).
There are even some websites that you can order you own genome music! Take a look at this one: http://www.yourdnasong.com/

2 comments:

Grace Ha said...

I found your post very interesting, so I visited the http://www.yourdnasong.com. While I still don't quite get the process of translating the DNA into the specific pitches, I wonder whether their claim that the customized DNA song heals one's DNA is valid. The composing process almost looks like that of a chance music: take the random information and turn each input to the assigned output. The cost of getting a customized DNA song is about CAD $500, and I don't think I would invest that money when I am not sure a) if the song really has the healing effect and b) whether they really analyze and use my DNA information to create the music. How am I supposed to know what they used to create the music?
The sample DNAsong they had on the website sounded like millions of twinkling stars in the dark sky, which was nice to hear. However, the company will need far more scienfical evidence to convince people to invest on the DNA music.

thedevilcorp said...

For your consideration.