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We Are Music

Do you ever wonder why we make music? Why are we drawn to sounds? Why does music make us feel the way it does? I think it’s because at our most basic level, we ARE music. 

I will explain. First though, a quick refresher. Something I hope you were all fortunate enough to learn at some point: atoms join together to create molecules, molecules join together to create everything else. These are the building blocks of all matter (Matter = stuff / everything.)

Some molecules join together to create amino acids. Amino acids join together to create proteins. Proteins are the building blocks of all organic matter (aka LIFE!) Like the Legos of Life. Proteins are the Legos of Life. (That’s catchy, let’s keep that going.)

There are 20 amino acids that make all proteins. All life can be broken down to a combination of these 20 amino acids. (Well, + H2O – you are 70% water, of course!) 

Researchers at MIT recently converted these 20 amino acids into a 20-tone musical scale, audible to the human ear. The tones are computed from the actual vibrational frequencies of each amino acid molecule, using quantum chemistry. These are the sounds the molecules are actually creating – transposed, if you will, into tones we can hear. Other aspects of the amino acids were encoded in different dimensions: volume and duration.

Using this scale – they translated any protein’s long sequence of amino acids into a sequence of notes. And what they had created – a MELODY. Any protein can be transposed into a recognizable musical sequence (mind blown yet?!)

Want to hear what you could sound like? (Embed – https://soundcloud.com/user-275864738/orchestra-of-amino-acids)

Back to atoms and molecules for a second – atoms are made of protons and neutrons clumped together, in mostly empty space, with electrons whizzing around in orbit. Mostly empty space – vibrating at different frequencies. The atoms in turn clump together with other atoms that are vibrating in harmonious ways, creating molecules that clump together with other molecules vibrating in harmonious ways. Frequencies (SOUNDS) working together to create a greater, harmonious whole – creating everything. 

What do you call multiple sounds working together to create a greater harmony? (Check here, I’ll wait – https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/music)

MUSIC! You are, and everything else is, music.

And for the first time, researchers at MIT have transposed the music of life into something we can hear. 

They didn’t stop there – next they had an AI study the musical sequences, then create slight variations, then create entirely new sequences. When they converted those new sequences back to proteins – they generated new proteins that had never before been created in nature. Read that again. Nevermind, I’ll say it again.

They created new building blocks of life that had never before been created in nature. New life. They made music, transposed it back into protein – and made new Legos of Life. (!!!)

I’m going to let that sink in – but I’ll leave you with one last thought. One of my favorite things when seeing live music is the connection one feels. Now thinking about it – if we are music, vibrating ourselves into being, then when we’re standing there all vibrating to the same frequency of that bass roaring through us, we become part of the music. Our own individual frequencies mix and bend with the bass. Everyone around you adding their own vibrations to create new melodies, if only we could hear them. Connected, each a building block to a greater harmonious whole. Another level of music. 

Zoom out a little more and you’ll find other frequencies and vibrations – more music. After that, another level of music. And on and on it goes… (What if we could hear the stars?!)

Read more from MIT – http://news.mit.edu/2019/translating-proteins-music-0626


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If you ask Dylan what his favorite thing about music is - he'll answer that it's music's ability to connect people from every part of the world. Dylan grew up playing music with his family and friends, and is always down for a jam session. He was first introduced to Rootfire while interning at Easy Star Records in 2013, and has since been on tour running merch for The Movement. Dylan now works at Soundwave Consulting where he supervises the digital strategy / marketing & advertising around album releases, tours, and music festivals for the likes of Slightly Stoopid, SOJA, J Boog, Reggae Rise Up, California Roots, and Easy Star Records.

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