Microbial Bebop

Like in many musical compositions, seasonal patterns of microbial communities frequently follow variations on a repeating pattern. Taking inspiration from patterns observed in nature and from some of the principles of jazz bebop improvisation, we have generated a method by which patterns of taxonomic and environmental parameter data from microbial ecology are translated into music.

Microbial Bebop highlights relationships between data

The main advantage of Microbial Bebop over previous efforts to transform scientific data in music is the ability to highlight relationships between data types. The same melody, generated from the same set of data, sounds different when played in the context of chords generated from different data types. In the hypothetical example above, the notes in measure in (A) are comprised of six hypothetical data points. All twelve measures in (B) are derived from the same six data points, but each measure is rectified to different chords, representing the same data played in context of different hypothetical parameters. Each measure in (B) is subtly but audibly distinct, demonstrating ability of Microbial Bebop to represent data in a way that can potentially be interpreted by a listener. Clicking on image will open audible version of figure.

Microbial Bebop in the news