2022 ATMI National Conference
Long Beach, CA
September 24, 2022
Teaching Algorithmic Composition through
Genetic Data Sonification
Reginald Bain, Professor
Composition and Theory
School of Music
University of South Carolina
813 Assembly St.
Columbia, SC 29208 USA
This paper presents pedagogical software that was created for a
university-level introduction to computer music course and a semester-long
interdisciplinary research experience for biologists and composers. The
author uses Cycling ‘74’s Max, an interactive multimedia programming
language and real-time composition environment, to create standalone
software applications (apps) that allow students to explore basic
principles of algorithmic composition in the context of data sonification
and genetics. The apps and accompanying tutorials, which are freely
available for download, provide students with multimedia learning spaces
that guide them through the prerequisite music technology concepts,
algorithmic approaches, and sonification techniques. This knowledge is
required to execute the final project of the research experience, where
groups of student biologists and composers are asked to represent basic
processes of genetics and evolutionary biology (especially mutation) using
- Max Apps: Getting
Started with Max & MIDI
- Tutorial: Parameter Mapping
Sonification of Genetic Data using Max & MIDI
University of South Carolina Courses
Introduction to Computer Music
Instructor: Reginald Bain
MWF 12:00-12:50 pm, Music Building, R006 and Computer Music Studio B, R011
(Advanced) Projects in Computer Music
Instructor: Reginald Bain
TBA, Music Building, Computer Music Studio B, R011
BIOL 599 Topics in
Biology: Chords and Codons
Instructor: Jeff Dudycha (Professor, Department of Biological Sciences)
MW 2:20-3:35 pm, Coker Life Science Building, R202
Mutational Music Project
This work is part of the the Mutational Music Project,
an interdisciplinary project at the University of South Carolina that is
focused on the development of music and software that helps students
understand genetic mutation concepts. For more information, visit:
In addition to engaging a wider audience for
scientific research through public concerts and talks, the investigators
hope to develop STEM talent and stimulate scientific creativity through
interdisciplinary collaborations that involve artistic creativity. For
more information about National Science Foundation (NSF) broader impacts,
NSF Broader Impacts – Improving Society
ATMI 2020 Presentation
For more information about the musical end of the interdisciplinary
research experience, see my ATMI 2020 paper presentation Integrating
Music and Genetics through Sonification and Data-Driven Music
Bain, Reginald. 2021. "Seed, from Double
Helix." Proceedings of the 26th Annual International Conference on
: 288-291. Available online at: <https://smartech.gatech.edu/handle/1853/66354
____________. 2020. "Integrating Music and Genetics through Sonification
and Data-Driven Music Composition." Association for Technology in
national conference paper presentation. Available
online at: <https://reginaldbain.com/atmi20
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, Archival Version. Available
online at: <http://musicandcomputersbook.com
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Magazine (August 1982): 28 & 120.
Dudycha, Jeffry L. 2018. “Introduction to
Mutation.” BIOL 599 Topics in Biology: Chords and Codons.
Unpublished course handout.
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Proteins." Leonardo 32/1: 25–32.
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Special thanks to all of the students who participated in the
Spring 2018, Spring 2020 and Spring 2022 interdisciplinary research
The investigators also wish to acknowledge the generous support of the
University of South Carolina, Dean of the School of Music Tayloe
Harding, and Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences Johannes
The Mutational Music Project is the broader impact component of the
National Science Foundation (NSF) grant project Mutational variance
of the transcriptome and the origins of phenotypic plasticity (NSF
award #1556645). Jeff Dudycha is the principal investigator and Reginald
Bain is the other senior person on the grant.
Updated: October 19, 2022