Welcome

Welcome to the Mutational Music Project website!

The Mutational Music Project is focused on the development of music and software that helps students understand genetic mutation concepts. To explore the possibilities, University of South Carolina professors Jeff Dudycha and Reginald Bain created a new interdisciplinary undergraduate research experience that involves biologists working in teams with electronic composers. The teams use established approaches in data sonification to design projects that address the following problem: In what way(s) can basic processes of genetics and evolutionary biology (especially mutation) be effectively represented through musical processes? To date, over fifty student biologists and composers have participated in the research experience.

DNA image; Credit: Pixabay.com

Contact

Reginald Bain, Professor
Composition & Theory
School of Music
University of South Carolina
E-mail: rbain@mozart.sc.edu
Jeff Dudycha, Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
College of Arts and Sciences
University of South Carolina
E-mail: dudycha@biol.sc.edu

Project News & Activities

The ongoing research and creative activity associated with this project has been shared via the courses, concerts, talks, and presentations listed below.

ATMI 2022

Bain gave a paper presentation at the 2022 Association for Technology in Music Instruction (ATMI) national conference titled Teaching Algorithmic Composition through Genetic Data Sonification. The paper discussed pedagogical software built using Cycling ‘74’s Max, an interactive multimedia programming language and real-time composition environment, that allows students to explore basic principles of algorithmic composition in the context of genetic data sonification.

DNA image; Credit: Pixabay.com

Genetic Variations (2022)

Composed for the Mutational Music Project, Bain's electronic composition Genetic Variations (2022) received its world premiere at the:

UofSC Computer Music Concert
University of South Carolina
School of Music
Recital Hall, 7:30 pm, FREE

Concert Program (pdf) | Flyer (pdf)

Spring 2022 Course

During the Spring 2022 term, the students enrolled in biology professor Jeff Dudycha's BIOL 599 Topics in Biology: Chords & Codons and music professor Reginald Bain's MUSC 540/(737) (Advanced) Projects in Computer Music teamed up in a unique beyond-the-classroom experience that focuses on interdisciplinary research/creative activity that lies at the intersection of intersection of genetics and algorithmic composition. Eight undergraduate biologists and eight undergraduate/graduate composers created the following four projects:

Group 1

Sonification of Bird Migratory Patterns with Progressing Climate Change

Biologists: Priyam Bhardwaj and Vin Sullivan
Composers: Evan Farr and Zacob Zirbel

Group 2

Sonification of MAO gene VNTRs

Biologists: Scott McManus and Anna Thamasett
Composers: Rachelle Armstead and Aidan McCarty

Group 3

Sonification of Invasive Sea Lamprey and Lake Trout Abundance in Lake Superior {YouTube}

Biologists: David Abdulrahman and Oliver Malatich
Composers: Schupeng Cao and Ashley Stewart

Group 4

The Sounds of Alzheimer's Disease

Biologists: Ashutosh Arora and Brandon Jolley
Composers: Max Feltes and Garrett Lee Fuller

ICAD 2021

The third movement of Bain's computer-generated composition Double Helix (2019), titled "Seed," was performed at the 2021 International Community for Auditory Display (ICAD 2021) Sonification Concert. Bain's ICAD 2021 paper (pdf) is available in the conference proceedings. A recording of the movement is available on YouTube.

Genetic code image; Credit: Pixabay.com

Evolution 2021

Dudycha and Bain gave a joint talk at the Evolution 2021 conference. The Evolution conference is the joint annual meeting of the American Society of Naturalists, the Society for the Study of Evolution, and the Society of Systematic Biologists. The presentation, titled Chords and Codons: Musical simulations of evolutionary processes in an interdisciplinary undergraduate course, discussed the scientific side of the interdisciplinary research experience.

ATMI 2020

Bain gave a paper presentation at the 2020 Association for Technology in Music Instruction (ATMI 2020) national conference titled Integrating Music and Genetics through Sonification and Data-Driven Music Composition. The presentation discussed the musical side of the interdisciplinary research experience. The revised online handout for the presentation is available on Bain's website.

DNA image; Credit: Pixabay.com

Spring 2020 Course

During the Spring 2020 term, the students enrolled in biology professor Jeff Dudycha's BIOL 599 Topics in Biology: Chords & Codons and music professor Reginald Bain's MUSC 540/(737) (Advanced) Projects in Computer Music teamed up in a unique beyond-the-classroom experience that focuses on interdisciplinary research/creative activity that lies at the intersection of intersection of genetics and algorithmic composition. Ten undergraduate biologists and ten undergraduate/graduate composers created the following four projects:

Group 1

The Harmonic Balance of Eat or Be Eaten

Biologists: Libby Davenport and Patrick Lawson
Composers: Ian Jones and Jacob Wylie

Group 2

Algorithmically-derived jazz from amino acid data

Biologists: Kate Bothe and Michelle St. John
Composers: Bryce Owens and Graeme Rosner

Group 3

Mutations Sonified in a Fugue

Biologists: Jacob Brock and Dexter Reasons
Composers: Elizabeth Greener and Hunter Vowell

Group 4

SoniPhylogenies: Cytochrome B Sonification using BLOSUM

Biologists: Rishi Suresh and Frank Webb
Composers: Andrew Gretzinger and Peter Underhill

Group 5

What Does Parkinson's Sound Like?

Biologists: Abby Askins and Jack Gabel
Composers: Te-Wei Huang and Jesse Kaiser

UofSC Today Article

The sound of genetics

Music, biology professors team up for inventive class to turn gene mutations into sound

by Page Ivey, in UofSC Today (October 11, 2019)

Double Helix (2019)

The 2019 USC Computer Music Concert was presented in lecture-recital format. Bain gave a lecture titled the Mutational Music Project, a talk for the general public on music, genetics, and sonification. The talk was designed to increase public understanding of genetics and genetic processes through analogous musical processes. The lecture was immediately followed by the world premiere of Bain’s computer-generated composition Double Helix, which was composed for the Mutational Music Project.

USC Computer Music Concert
Monday, April 8, 2019
University of South Carolina
School of Music
Recital Hall, 7:30 pm, FREE

Concert Program (pdf) | Flyer (pdf)

Mutational Music Project Slide

Undergraduate Research (2018-19)

Joelle Strom, B.S. Biology
SC Honors College (SCHC)
Sonification of Epigenetic Processes, SCHC Senior Thesis

Matthew Waller, B.S. Biology
SC Honors College
Waltz Toward Disaster: A Representation of the Accumulation of Mutations Over Time, USC Discovery Day Presentation

A New Interdisciplinary Research Experience (Spring 2018 Course)

During the Spring 2018 term, the students enrolled in biology professor Jeff Dudycha's BIOL 599 Topics in Biology: Chords & Codons and music professor Reginald Bain's MUSC 540/(737) (Advanced) Projects in Computer Music teamed up in a unique beyond-the-classroom experience that focuses on interdisciplinary research/creative activity that lies at the intersection of intersection of genetics and algorithmic composition. Ten undergraduate biologists and ten undergraduate/graduate composers created the following four projects:

Group 1

A genetic sequence is directly mapped to a chord progression while implementing the properties of various mutations

Biologists: Lauren Huffmire and Kathryn Metts
Composers: Thomas Palmer

Group 2

Waltz Toward Disaster: A Representation of the Accumulation of Mutations Over Time

Biologists: Zach Spicer and Matthew Waller
Composer: Ryan Williams

Group 3

A familiar melody is altered according to the rules of genetic mutation

Biologists: Rachel May and Joel Strom
Composers: Michael VanBuhler and Robert Wilkinson

Group 4

Hearing the Silent: Musically Expressing Intronic Mutations

Biologists: Lexi Dickson and Olivia Harris
Composer: Jacob Wylie

Mutational Music Talks

To provide regular reports on the ongoing research and creative activity associated with the musical end of the project, Bain has delivered the following public talks in the Composition Area's weekly Composition Seminar:

October 21, 2016
Generative Music
Composition Seminar, 2:30 - 4 pm, Music Building, Room 210

September 15, 2017
Music, Biology and Sonification
Composition Seminar, 2:30 - 4 pm, Music Building, Room 210

September 21, 2018
Data-Driven Music
Composition Seminar, 2:30 - 4 pm, Music Building, Room 210

February 1, 2019
Generative Rhythm
Composition Seminar, 2:30 - 4 pm, Music Building, Room 210

March 29, 2019
Science, Music and Metaphor
Composition Seminar, 2:30 - 4 pm, Music Building, Room 210

September 6, 2019
Sonification and the Auditory Sublime
Composition Seminar, 2:30 - 4 pm, Music Building, Room 210

February 7, 2020
Microtonal Spaces for Sonification: Part 1: The Harmonic Series
Composition Seminar, 2:30 - 4 pm, Music Building, Room 210

October 23, 2020
Microtonal Spaces for Sonification: Part 2: EDO, JI, and Beyond
Composition Seminar, 2:30 - 4 pm, Virtual

January 22, 2021
Composition and Sonification
Composition Seminar, 2:30 - 4 pm, Virtual

October 29, 2021
"Seed," from Double Helix
Composition Seminar, 2:30 - 4 pm, Music Building, R210

February 25, 2022
Musical Analogies for Genetic Mutation
Composition Seminar, 2:30 - 4 pm, Music Building, Room 210

Spring 2023
"Transposable Elements," from Genetic Variations
Composition Seminar, 2:30 - 4 pm, Music Building, Room 210

Acknowledgements

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. 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 Stratmann.

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