Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Choir Sings Their Own DNA

The London premiere of a new choral work in which singers sing parts derived from their own genetic code will take place tonight (July 13th) at the Royal Society of Medicine.

Allele, composed by Michael Zev Gordon will be performed by the New London Chamber Choir.

It is part of a Wellcome Trust-funded project called "Music from the Genome". In tandem with the production of this piece, Dr. Andrew Morley is conducting an investigation into the genetic determinants of musical ability.
The DNA of 20 choral singers (including some from the singers tonight) was compared with DNA from 20 non-musicians. Preliminary results will be announced at tonights event.

Dr Andrew Morley said, "Both parts of the project directly address genetic complexity. The music is stunning because of this but, correspondingly, those looking for a simple answer to the question 'what makes us musical?' will be disappointed. The genetics are so much more complicated than a single 'musical gene'. What is already apparent, though, is that genetic polymorphisms influencing our musicality may also affect aspects of our personality, specifically our altruistic tendencies."

For the new composition, 40 singers will each sing individual parts created using a sample of their own DNA by turning the varying order of the four bases (A, G, C, T) into musical patterns.

You can hear a preview of the new composition taken from rehearsals here.


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