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Science that’s fun: create your own musical petri dish

on May 23, 2014, 12:00pm

Science and technology have paved the way for some pretty creative music making devices. From the ever-popular drum pad sampler to the synesthesia-mimicking Patatap, there’s plenty of tools out there to turn anyone into a musician. But what if someone combined science and music into the ultimate biological, digital instrument?

No, we’re not talking some kind of Deathlok maestro; rather something called Seaquence. The folks at Gray Area Labs made a site which allows users to create “biological” creatures, essentially digital germs, that each plays its own series of sounds. A step-sequence pattern grid tells the little music-makers when to pipe up, and tweaking things like waveform, octave, scale, and envelope alters not only the sound of the lifeforms but the look. Different colors mean different base tones, and even size affects volume.

You can keep adding creatures to your petri dish orchestra, and the way they interact with each other and move about the world changes the composition itself. Then save the final “song” and share it with the real world. It’s a nifty bit of interactive science invented by Ryan Alexander, Gabriel Dunne, and Daniel Massey that can turn anyone with a computer and the desire to get lost in a microscopic musical menagerie for a few hours into a biologist/composer.

Some sample sequences include “melancholy”, “Outsider”, “2”. Below, watch a demonstration video to get a feel for what to do, then head to Seaquence.org to try it out yourself.