OffBeat

Using a few drops of saliva, 23andMe creates a song out of your DNA

You may not think music is in your genes, but a new technique from personal genomics company 23andMe may just prove you wrong.

Using the genetic information available in just a few drops of saliva, 23andMe has developed a way to create music out of your genetic code.

The general technique of creating music out of DNA isn’t anything new, but 23andMe composer Mark Ackerley says that his technique is a bit more advanced.

While previous techniques use DNA as a jumping point for a composer-created melody, the 23andMe method is almost fully automated. Pitch, key, rhythm — all of the most significant parts of a musical composition are assigned by genetic data.

To determine key, for example, 23andMe takes a user’s maternal haplogroup, a group of DNA sequences that’s used to determine ancestry, and links it to a specified key. Likewise, traits like height and eye color also correspond to their own musical values.

And while all of that may sound the recipe for a cacophonous, painful bit of music, the technique’s developers say that just isn’t the case.

“By using these guidelines we ensure we won’t get random notes or disjointed melodies,” Ackerley said on the 23andMe blog.

In all, Ackerly says that there are hundreds of thousands of possible melodies available via the new technique. You can find just one example below.

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