May 18, 2011

I Sing the Genome Electric

OK, so this is a super cool idea. Not entirely new, but new to me, thanks to, of all places, the Volokh Conspiracy.

The idea behind the Genetic Music Project is pretty simple: DNA is made up of only four nucleotides (identified as A, C, G, and T). It’s the combination of those four things, and the various patterns they form, that influence everything from baldness to some mental illnesses. The Genetic Music Project lays out genetic markers for several different things.  Assign each nucleotide a pitch and then use the genetic pattern as a template for ordering the pitches. Everything else (tempo, timbre, etc.) is up to the musician. What makes the Genetic Music Project different from other similar setups is that the DNA, in this case, comes from the guy who runs the site.

Already, several people have taken up the offer to “[g]o forth and musicify!” with interesting results:

"Restless Leg Syndrome" (no kidding)

"Heroin Addiction"

I’ll have to get in on this. I’m thinking of the genetic patterns as sort of a biological arpeggiator.  We'll hear where it leads!

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