Transcribing DNA into music

Now, using a program called Gene2Music, you can transcribe any DNA sequence into music. The program, which was developed by molecular geneticists Rie Takahashi and Jeffrey Miller of the University of California, Los Angeles, uses an algorithm that converts each codon in the DNA sequence into a musical chord. Codons for hydrophilic amino acids (which are attracted to water) have a high key, codons for hydrophobic amino acids (which are repelled by water) have a lower key, and the duration of each chord is determined by the frequency of its corresponding codon within the transcribed DNA sequence.

Using Gene2Music, Takahashi and Miller have so far generated more than a dozen pieces of music, including transcripts of the huntingtin and cytochrome c genes. The aim of the project is to make the visualization of proteins easier for scientists, and to make molecular biology more comprehensible to non-scientists. Takahashi says it was inspired by a blind meteorology student and Cornell University, who devised a method by which the different colours on a weather map could be converted into musical tones.

From here; there also seem to be some tricks in getting a successful transcription:

Previous pieces of DNA music have tended to sound unmelodic, because they often contain jump distances of up to two octaves (16 notes) from one tone to another. Takahashi and Miller overcame this by assigning three notes to each codon. With a triad chord for each codon, the differences between successive chords in the music are reduced.

Take a look!

One Response to “Transcribing DNA into music”

  1. Transcribing DNA into music: Carnatic edition « Entertaining Research Says:

    […] DNA into music: Carnatic edition Prof. D Balasubramanian, in the Hindu, catches up on the musical transcription of DNA story; what is more, he even has a project in mind for a Carnatic musician with scientific bent. […]

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