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DNA Set to Music! (Part III)

The Finale of DNA Music!

Microtones, such as the ones created by our DNA, are hard to produce on our musical instruments and sound strange. It was difficult to make music from these 'random' sounds with no seeming order. However, something very interesting happened to the musical DNA team. After weeks and weeks of experimenting with different sound combinations, they noticed that one pitch seemed to create coherency, a C#. (Most pianos are tuned to around 554 for C#).

Common to all the DNA bases:

  • Adenine: 545.6 Hz
  • Guanine: 550
  • Average Hz = 544.2
  • Thymine: 543.4
  • Cytosine: 537.8

The pitch that showed up most frequently was F#. It is found no less than three times in each base collection. Yet the fifth above, the C#, acted as the organizing force.

The first DNA CD, Sequential, was written for tabla, a tuned Indian drum, tuned to C#. The drum keeps a steady rhythm. While the synthesizer plays repeating patterns, the violin, cello and voice revolve harmonically around the C#.

By comparing all 60 pitches they found all of the precise ratios found in the first 16 harmonics of the overtone series: octaves, Perfect 5th, Perfect 4ths, Major and minor thirds, Major and minor 2nds and 7ths; even a 'flat' seventh. Mathematically, the odds of this happening at random are almost nonexistent.

I ordered the Sequential DNA CD and enjoyed the strangely familiar sounds of DNA....I hope you get try the same journey and find it delightful!

Susan Alexander at