Mutational Music Project
Reginald Bain and Jeff Dudycha
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.
The ongoing research and creative activity associated with this project has been shared via the courses, concerts, talks, and presentations listed below.
Bain will gave a paper presentation at the 2022 Association for Technology in Music Instruction national conference titled Teaching Algorithmic Composition through Genetic Data Sonification. The paper will discuss pedagogical software built using Cycling ‘74’s Max, an interactive multimedia programming language and real-time composition environment, that allow students to explore basic principles of algorithmic composition in the context of genetic data sonification.
Composed for the Mutational Music Project, Bain's electronic composition Genetic Variations (2022) received its world premiere at the:UofSC Computer Music Concert
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:
Sonification of Bird Migratory Patterns with Progressing Climate Change
Biologists: Priyam Bhardwaj and Vin Sullivan
Composers: Evan Farr and Zacob Zirbel
Sonification of MAO gene VNTRs
Biologists: Scott McManus and Anna Thamasett
Composers: Rachelle Armstead and Aidan McCarty
Sonification of Invasive Sea Lamprey and Lake Trout Abundance in Lake Superior
Biologists: David Abdulrahman and Oliver
Composers: Schupeng Cao and Ashley Stewart
The Sounds of Alzheimer's Disease
Biologists: Ashutosh Arora and Brandon Jolley
Composers: Max Feltes and Garrett Lee Fuller
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.
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.
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.
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:
The Harmonic Balance of Eat or Be Eaten
Biologists: Libby Davenport and Patrick Lawson
Composers: Ian Jones and Jacob Wylie
Algorithmically-derived jazz from amino acid data
Biologists: Kate Bothe and Michelle St. John
Composers: Bryce Owens and Graeme Rosner
Mutations Sonified in a Fugue
Biologists: Jacob Brock and Dexter Reasons
Composers: Elizabeth Greener and Hunter Vowell
SoniPhylogenies: Cytochrome B Sonification using BLOSUM
Biologists: Rishi Suresh and Frank Webb
Composers: Andrew Gretzinger and Peter Underhill
What Does Parkinson's Sound Like?
Biologists: Abby Askins and Jack Gabel
Composers: Te-Wei Huang and Jesse Kaiser
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
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:
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
Waltz Toward Disaster: A Representation of the Accumulation of Mutations Over Time
Biologists: Zach Spicer and Matthew Waller
Composer: Ryan Williams
A familiar melody is altered according to the rules of genetic mutation
Biologists: Rachel May and Joel Strom
Composers: Michael VanBuhler and Robert Wilkinson
Hearing the Silent: Musically Expressing Intronic Mutations
Biologists: Lexi Dickson and Olivia Harris
Composer: Jacob Wylie
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:
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.