Genome Music

By Larry Lang

This piece was composed starting with codons from the human genome.  In particular, I focused on oxytocin, the hormone which induces labor, as my wife was pregnant when I wrote it.  The 27 bases (9 amino acids) forming oxytocin are mapped to the repeating piano figure, the full oxytocin gene becomes the bass line, and snips of RNA inversions, transpositions, and gonadatropin pizzicato fill in the rest.

Oxy Fugue 9 [*.mp3    5.95 MB]    4 June 2001

Will repeat listenings induce labor?  :-)  Please send your feedback.

Technical Details

Amino Acid MIDI Note
Ala c5
Arg  e4
Asn  b3
Asp  a#3
Cys  d#4
Glu  a#4
Gln  b4
Gly  c3
His  d3
Ile  f4
Leu  c4
Lys  f3
Met  f#3
Phe  a3
Pro  e3
Ser  g4
Thr  d4
Trp  f#4
Tyr  a4
Val  g3
STOP  Rest


On 26 June 2000, the Human Genome Project public consortium announced that it has assembled a working draft of the sequence of the human genome.  The National Institute of Health is a central source of information about the human genome.

The human genome comprises twenty-three chromosome pairs (numbered 1 through 22, plus XX for females or XY for males), around which are entwined our DNA.  The DNA strands include about 3.15 billion bases.  These bases are like bits encoding genetic information.  But unlike binary bits, just 0 and 1, the DNA code includes four bases, named thymine, cytosine, adenine, and guanine (abbreviated T, C, A, G), which in three-base combinations compose amino acids.  Along these base strands are active sections called genes.  The 50,000 to 100,000 active genes range in size from 2000 to 2,000,000 bases long.  The human genome sequencing project seeks to break down the DNA, determine the sequence of bases, and find the active genes.

The human genome database, listing bases in sequence, contains tables of raw information.  The framing patterns of bases show the start and end of genes, much as framing patterns of bits show the start and end of packets.  The mapping from bases to amino acids is a natural code.

Also intriguing is that all humans share about 99.8 percent of the same DNA.  Only about 6 million of the bases differ from person to person.  Still, the number of distinct possibilities this allows (perhaps 4^6000000) is a large enough number that we needn't worry about identical copies anytime soon!  Meanwhile, I want to learn how to make a backup copy of myself.