Protein music

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Protein music (DNA music or genetic music) is a musical technique where music is composed by converting protein sequences or genes to musical notes. It is a theoretical method made by Joël Sternheimer, who is a physicist, composer and mathematician.[1][circular reference]

The first published references to protein music in the scientific literature are a paper co-authored by a member of The Shamen in 1996,[2] and a short correspondence by Hayashi and Munakata in Nature in 1984.[3]


In Gödel, Escher, Bach, Douglas Hofstadter draws similarities and analogies between genes and music.[4] It even proposes that meaning is constructed in protein and in music.[5]

The ideas that supports the possibility of creating harmonic musics using this method are:

  • The repetition process governs both the musical composition and the DNA sequence construction.[6]
  • The conformations and energetics of the protein secondary and tertiary structures at the atomic level.[7] See also[8] for full compositions made using this concept.
  • Pink noise (the correlation structure "1/f spectra") have been found in both musical signals and DNA sequences.[9]
  • Models with duplication and mutation operations, such as the "expansion-modification model" are able to generate sequences with 1/f spectra.[10]
  • When DNA sequences are converted to music, it sounds musical.[11][12]
  • Human Genome Project has revealed similar genetic themes not only between species, but also between proteins.[13]

Musical renditions of DNA and proteins is not only a music composition method, but also a technique for studying genetic sequences. Music is a way of representing sequential relationships in a type of informational string to which the human ear is keenly attuned. The analytic and educational potential of using music to represent genetic patterns has been recognized from secondary school to university level.[13]


  • Examples of simple protein structures converted to midi music file[14] show the independence of protein music from musical instrument, and the convenience of using protein structures in music composition.[15]
  • The software Algorithmic arts can convert raw genetic data (freely available for download on the web) to music. There are many examples of musics generated by this software, both by designer[16] and by others.[17]
  • Several people have composed musics using protein structure, and several students and professors have used music as a method to study proteins.[13] The recording Sounds of HIV is a musical adaptation of the genetic material of HIV/AIDS.[18]


  1. ^ fr:Joël Sternheimer
  2. ^ King, Ross; Angus, Colin (1996). "Protein Music". CABIOS. 12 (3): 251–2. doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/12.3.251. PMID 8872396.
  3. ^ Hayashi, Kenshi; Munakata, Nobuo (1984). "Basically Musical". Nature. 310 (5973): 96. doi:10.1038/310096a0. PMID 6738718.
  4. ^ Hofstadter, Douglas (1999). Gödel, Escher, Bach (1980 ed.). Vintage Books. p. 519. ISBN 978-0-465-02656-2. Imagine the mRNA to be like a long piece of magnetic recording tape, and the ribosome to be like a tape recorder. As the tape passes through the playing head of the recorder, it is "read" and converted into music, or other sounds...When a 'tape' of mRNA passes through the 'playing head' of a ribosome, the 'notes' produced are amino acids and the pieces of music they make up are proteins.
  5. ^ Hofstadter (1980) p525: "Music is not a mere linear sequence of notes. Our minds perceive pieces of music on a level far higher than that. We chunk notes into phrases, phrases into melodies, melodies into movements, and movements into full pieces. similarly proteins only make sense when they act as chunked units. Although a primary structure carries all the information for the tertiary structure to be created, it still 'feels' like less, for its potential is only realized when the tertiary structure is actually physically created."
  6. ^ Ohno, Susumu; Ohno, Midori (1986). "The all pervasive principle of repetitious recurrence governs not only coding sequence construction but also human endeavor in musical composition". Immunogenetics. 24 (2): 71–8. CiteSeerX doi:10.1007/BF00373112. PMID 3744439. S2CID 31738506.
  7. ^ "Proteomusic". Proteomusic. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  8. ^ "Proteomusic album by TWISTED HELICES". Proteomusic. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  9. ^ Greenwood, Priscilla; Ward, Lawrence (2007). "1/f noise". Scholarpedia. 2 (12): 1537. Bibcode:2007SchpJ...2.1537W. doi:10.4249/scholarpedia.1537.
  10. ^ Li, Wentian (1991). "Expansion-modification systems: A model for spatial 1/f spectra". Physical Review A. 43 (10): 5240–60. Bibcode:1991PhRvA..43.5240L. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.43.5240. PMID 9904836.
  11. ^ Sansom, Clare (2002), DNA makes protein — makes music? (PDF), The Biochemical Society, retrieved March 22, 2014
  12. ^ "DNA Music", The Robert S. Boas Center for Genomics and Human Genetics. Archived November 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ a b c Clark, M. A. (November 2, 2005). "Genetic Music: An Annotated Source List".
  14. ^ examples from Nucleic acid database Archived June 7, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ de la Cruz, Joanna. "Plain Melody & Composition". Neucleic acid database. Archived from the original on 9 March 2004. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  16. ^ "Genetic Music From DNA and Protein ",
  17. ^
  18. ^ Vanhoose, Joe (30 November 2010). "Sounds of HIV". Athens Banner-Herald. Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2014.

Further reading[edit]

Journal articles, Arranged by post date:

External links[edit]