What is the genetic music project?
The genetic music project is an open-source art project in which I offer up parts of my genetic code to everyone for the purpose of making music.
Where did the idea for the genetic music project from?
Making music out of DNA sequences is not an original idea. I remember first learning about a professor who made music out of sequence for insulin sometime in the 1990s. More recently composer Alexandra Pajak came out with an album of music based on the sequence for the HIV virus and story by Benjamin Matveyfeatured an odd little scientist compulsively humming his genome in his head. This project started back in 2008 when me and my friend Liz Wade decided to send in our saliva to 23 and Me to get tested. From that code Liz compose a number of songs and since then I have been pestering my friends around the country to make music out of pieces of my own code. I have been extremely pleased by the creativity it is unleashed, and now I want to open up the project to the world.
What makes the genetic music project different?
The primary difference between this project and any other genetic music project is it that it is the first time I know of where someone has offered up parts of his own genetic code in order to the world as an open source art project with the goal of only fostering creative interpretations based, not on an abstraction of a genomic Everyman, but rather on the blood of of a particular person. While, I know, it would be much more interesting to write music based on Einstein, Eiminem, or Jessica Alba’s genetic code, mine is the only one I had access to!
Aren’t you worried about releasing genetic information about yourself?
Not really, and there are several reasons for this. First, as 23 and Me makes clear the research behind the various conditions varies in reliability and accuracy. Second, genetics really aren’t destiny. All these genetic markers show is that I might have a greater, lesser, or typical risk of having certain tendencies in certain environments. For example, I am revealing to the world that under the research available at 23 and me I have a somewhat greater likelihood of becoming addicted to heroin. This does not particularly worry me in any way because I don’t do heroin. Third, I actually found most of the results I received from 23 and me to be surprisingly reassuring. Turns out, I don’t have the “evil gene” as proposed by Dr. Hibbard on The Simpsons.
What is the goal of the project?
I’m glad you asked! The goal of the project is to have fun, make art, and, hopefully, get to showcase the talents of musicians that I greatly admire, and others that I hope to become acquainted to through this project. I will consider this project a raging success the first time someone I’ve never met before sends me a good piece of music based on one of the genetic markers I provided. I will consider it a RAGING success if I ever get a good piece of zydeco based on my genetic code.