Genome Music

Somehow, I don’t think this is what the founders had in mind when they created the Music Genome Project a decade ago at Stanford:

After creating pictures from the human DNA code and getting an incredible amount of positive response, the step to convert the data to audio came into our mind quite fast. After some thinking and lots of tests, we are converting the whole human genome to audio and streaming them now to the Internet, 24/7. The idea is quite simple, every base is read and broadcasted instead converting it to a color. With DNA-Radio we don’t visualize the chromosome, we sonify it and have now completed a full audio-visual DNA representation of human chromosomes.

It reminds me of a keynote talk that Thomas Dolby (of “She Blinded me with Science” 1980s fame — one of my childhood favorites) gave at ISMIR 2005.  He was working on a “sonifications” project, in which he converted raw data into pleasing sound.  In one of his examples, he put a “read head” on rotating image of the sun and converted the swirling masses of fire and solar flares into audio.  It was a fantastic presentation, made even more memorable by the fact that Dolby’s brother gave the other keynote that day.  Who is his brother?  Venerable information retrieval luminary, Stephen Robertson.  Music and information retrieval together — what a heady time.

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