[extropy-chat] FWD [forteana] A bit more on the genome music

Terry W. Colvin fortean1 at mindspring.com
Tue Feb 10 23:53:09 UTC 2004

>From Carl Frederick, the programmer/composer, reposted with his


The genome music is actually the output of two programmes: 'Genomeplayer'
which takes a genome (or any other linear data, for that matter) and
produces a musical score as output (Genomeplayer also plays the score with
a simple square wave.) The second programme is one that I've wanted to do
for a very long time; the programme, 'Kral', takes a musical score and
plays it with instruments indistinguishable from real instruments played
by real people. Kral takes instrument definition files, along with
technique, performer ability, music style, and other files--and produces
wave file output. Kral took the bulk of the work and is about three times
bigger a programme than Genomeplayer. Now, I've got to spend some time and
create credible instruments. I hope I'll have a good trumpet by the end of
the week.

Now, with Genomeplayer and Kral done, I've got all this extra time. Aside
from my work, fencing, and my bagpipe group, time is available. Now, I can
get back to writing. I envy your output. I'll never be able to match it,
but it is something to strive toward.

Of course, now that I mention it, no computer programme is ever really
finished. I just hope I have the discipline not to tweak the system
indefinitely. (I do intend to make a baton [magnitometer and strain gauge,
inside] so that one can conduct a Kral generated score [I've always wanted
to conduct Beethoven], but that can wait a while.)

Here are a few more details:

To keep to 'the spirit of the genome', I did the conversion, not from the
bases, but from the codons--the sets of three bases that code for an amino
acid. There are 64 (4X4X4) possible codons and only 20 amino acids. Amino
acids then, are represented by a variable number of codons--from six down
to one. I associated those amino acids with the highest number of codon
representations with the most common notes of the c-major scale. I also
coded so that only the exons (the gene sequences) were used. For this, I
needed to use methionine and the three codons that don't represent an
amino acid, as start and stop indicators. And, in addition, I used them as
musical codas. One particular amino acid, I used as a flag to indicate
that the following codon represented a change of note duration, or a sharp
or flat. These two-codon instructions, since they are comparatively rare,
do not drive the music out of c-major, and don't change the tempo
particularly often.

"Only a zit on the wart on the heinie of progress." Copyright 1992, Frank Rice

Terry W. Colvin, Sierra Vista, Arizona (USA) < fortean1 at mindspring.com >
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