Protein music

Protein music

Protein music is a musical genre or form, composed by converting protein sequences, such as genes, to musical notes.



Gödel, Escher, Bach draws similarities and analogies between genes and music.[1] It even proposes that meaning is constructed in protein and in music.[2]

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.[3]
  • Pink noise (the correlation stucture "1/f spectra") have been found in both musical signals and DNA sequences.
  • Models with duplication and mutation operations, such as the "expansion-modification model" are able to generate sequences with 1/f spectra.[4]
  • When DNA sequences are converted to music, it sounds musical.[5]
  • Human Genome Project has mhas revealed similar genetic themes not only between species, but also between proteins.[6]

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.[6]


  • Examples of simple protein structures converted to midi music file[7] show the independence of protein music from musical instrument, and the convenience of using protein structures in music composition.[8]
  • 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[9] and by others[10].
  • Several people have composed musics using protein structure, and several students and professors have used music as a method to study proteins.[6]

See also

Susumu Ohno


  1. ^ Hofstadter (1980)[page needed]: 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.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Ohno and Ohno (1986)
  4. ^ Li (1991)
  5. ^ The Robert S. Boas Center for Genomics and Human Genetics.
  6. ^ a b c[Full citation needed]
  7. ^ examples from Nucleic acid database
  8. ^ de la Cruz, Joanna. "Plain Melody & Composition". Neucleic acid database. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  9. ^
  10. ^


Journal articles, Arranged by post date:

  1. 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. doi:10.1007/BF00373112. PMID 3744439. 
  2. Ohno, S (1993). "A song in praise of peptide palindromes". Leukemia 7 (Suppl 2): S157–9. PMID 8361224. 
  3. Ohno, Susumu (1987). "Repetition as the Essence of Life on this Earth: Music and Genes". Haematolology and Blood Transfusion 31: 511–8. PMID 3443409. 
  4. Ohno, S. (2009). "On periodicities governing the construction of genes and proteins". Animal Genetics 19 (4): 305–16. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2052.1988.tb00822.x. PMID 2852906. 
  5. Ohno, Susumu (1989). "Modern coding sequences are in the periodic-to-chaotic transition". Haematolology and Blood Transfusion 32: 512–9. PMID 2625261. 
  6. Li, Wentian (1991). "Expansion-modification systems: A model for spatial 1/f spectra". Physical Review A 43 (10): 5240–60. doi:10.1103/PhysRevA.43.5240. PMID 9904836. 
  7. Dunn, John; Clark, Mary Anne (1999). "Life Music:The Sonification of Proteins". Leonardo 32: 25–32. doi:10.1162/002409499552966. JSTOR 1576622. 
  8. Takahashi, Rie; Miller, Jeffrey H (2007). "Conversion of amino-acid sequence in proteins to classical music: Search for auditory patterns". Genome Biology 8 (5): 405. doi:10.1186/gb-2007-8-5-405. PMC 1929127. PMID 17477882. 


  1. Hofstadter, Douglas (1999). Gödel, Escher, Bach (1980 ed.). Vintage Books. pp. 519. ISBN 978-0465026562.,+Escher,+Bach&dq=G%C3%B6del,+Escher,+Bach. 

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