BioSon is specifically designed to convert the amino acid sequences of proteins into musical sequences. Proteins are composed of motifs and modules that give their structure a very musical character. BioSon can be used both to produce interesting music and to study protein sequences in a rich and novel way.
Protein data bases use 20 letters of the standard English alphabet (B, J, O, U, X, and Z are omitted) to represent the 20 amino acids of which proteins are composed. BioSon calls up a simple text editor that can be used to enrich the primary sequence with data flags that indicate regions of alpha helix, beta sheet, and turns. However the same flag markers also can be used to mark other regions of interest, e.g. ligand-binding sites or transmembrane domains. The program contains eight voices whose activity can be specified independently. The basic capabilities of each voice include:
Straight readout of a single sequence. Sequences can be read through either once or as a continuous loop. Default pitch assignment tables have been included with the program. However these can also be edited by the user. Key and tempo can be selected by the user.
Simultaneous readout of up to four different sequences. This feature is useful for multi-species comparisons.
Selective readout of regions marked with data flags.
Selective readout of individual amino acids where they occur in the sequence.
Selective readout of amino acids at given intervals, e.g. every 6th amino acid can be sounded.
Production of a single repeating tone at a selected pitch.
Production of chords.
Music is produced and can be modified in real time, as you listen to the sequence output. Although music can be played from a single frame one set of up to 8 voices -- up to to 99 linked musical frames of up to 60 seconds each can be produced; your musical choices for each frame can either be copied to the next frame or changed. Output from frame to frame is continuous, and even very long sequences can be read through without interruption.
Both sequence data and all musical settings are saved in individual music files. You can create your own library of protein music.
The output of the program is a MIDI data flow that can drive any MIDI synthesizer, including most sound cards. MIDI and/or WAV files are best generated by using a second computer running the appropiate recording software.