The piece was put together by Markus J. Buehler, who is the McAfee Professor of Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and also a composer of experimental, classical and electronic music.
Taking to his Soundcloud page last month, Buehler shared his ‘Viral Counterpoint of the Coronavirus Spike Protein’ track.
The ensemble brings together a 13-string Japanese koto, bells and flutes, with the movement of each amino acid depicted by a different note. Molecular vibration, meanwhile, is represented by changing melodies which represent the hierarchical geometry of the protein.
“While we cannot see small nanoscopic objects like proteins or other molecules that make up virtually all living matter including our cells, tissues, as well as pathogens such as viruses, our computational algorithm allows us to make its material manifestation audible,” Buehler explained of his creation.
“This piece is a musical representation of the amino acid sequence and structure of the spike protein of the pathogen of COVID-19, 2019-nCoV.”
He added: “This musical art teaches us something about the fine line between beauty of life and death as an opposite pole. As you listen to the protein you will find that the intricate design results in incredibly interesting and actually pleasing, relaxing sounds.”
Within the comments sections, some listeners have compared the arrangement to music by Bjork and Four Tet. “It sounds peaceful! Almost inviting you into another world,” wrote one. Another added: “It’s like it’s trying to tell us something. thank you for the poetic translation.”
Meanwhile, as many artists other artists remain under lockdown, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong has revealed that he’s written six new Green Day songs during his time at home.