What is Gene Music?

Nowadays, many biologists are involved in frenzied endeavors to determine sequences of thousands of genes of various organisms hoping to unravel mysteries and to lighten miseries of life. The sequences of DNA and protein are traditionally represented by four and twenty alphabetical characters, so we have boring heaps of characters, once we look into huge databases or pages of new journals. As an attempt to make these sequences a little bit more friendlier and attractive, we have proposed solmization of DNA sequences by assigning a tone to each base. This was extended to the assignment of a tonal pitch to each amino acid. Once sequences are transcribed to MIDI notes, they can be manipulated as materials for compositions, and my exercises and explorations are shown in articles, programs, and MIDI files.

Original assignments (see Table below):
(1) DNA sequence: base (GCTA) = tone (DEGA).
(2) Amino acid sequence: (RKH) (DE) (NQST) (GPAC) (YWF) (MLVI)= (#D1,F1,G1)(#A1,C2)(D2,F2,G2,A2)(C3,D3,E3,G3)(A3,B3,D4)(E4,#F4,A4,B4).

Extended assignments:
(1) DNA sequence: any transposition or modulation of the original.
(2) Amino acid sequence: any assignment conserving the relative pitch relationship, i. e. 19-tet in an octave from R to I.


(1) K. Hayashi and N. Munakata, Basically Musical. Nature, 310, 96 (1984).
(2) N. Munakata and K. Hayashi, Gene Music; Tonal assignments of Bases and Amino Acids. pp. 72-83. In Visualizing Biological Information (Ed. C. Pickover), World Scientific, Singapore (1995). (ISBN 9810214278)
(3) N. Munakata, Musical Representation of Gene Sequences. pp. 73-82. In Arts Medicine (Eds. R. R. Pratt and Y. Tokuda), MMB Music, Saint Louis (1997). (ISBN 0-918812-92-5)
(4) N. Munakata, Gene Sequence Analysis with Auditory Display.
Tonal Assignment of Bases and Amino Acids.

Chemical  MIDI note (middle C=C3=60)  Property

A adenine        A3  69  purine, complementary to T
T thymine        G3  67  pyrimidine, complementary to A
C cytosine       E3  64  pyrimidine, complementary to G
G guanine        D3  62  purine, complementary to C

Amino acid
I isoleucine     B4  83  hydrophobic
V valine         A4  81  hydrophobic
L leucine        F4# 78  hydrophobic
M methionine     E4  76  hydrophobic
F phenylalanine  D4  74  aromatic, hydrophobic
W tryptophan     B3  71  aromatic, hydrophobic
Y tyrosine       A3  69  aromatic, hydroxyl
C cysteine       G3  67  disulfide-bonding
A alanine        E3  64  small, hydrophobic
P proline        D3  62  helix-breaking
G glycine        C3  60  small, flexible
T threonine      A2  57  hydroxyl
S serine         G2  55  hydroxyl
Q glutamine      F2  53  amide
N asparagine     D2  50  amide
E glutamate      C2  48  acidic
D aspartate      A1# 46  acidic
H histidine      G1  43  weakly basic
K lysine         F1  41  basic
R arginine       D1# 39  basic

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