So it turns out the best way to prevent swine flu is to wash your damn hands, and to make sure you do a nice thorough job. A former member of the Texas Medical Associaton's Committee on Infectious Diseases suggests you sing or hum songs you probably learned in kindergarten for the duration, to further ensure an adequate cleansing. Over on Hair Balls, we posted some slightly more recent - and longer, because you can't ever be too careful - songs to wash your hands by
, but of course we saved the really good stuff for Rocks Off.
This week, artist/engineer - we're still not sure which he is, maybe both - Stephan Zielinski
mapped out some code which would turn the genetic structure of the H1-N1 virus (aka swine flu) into music. Confused? How can a virus make music? We'll let Zielinski explain after the jump.
"Since the gene is expressed as a surface protein antibodies can sense, it's considered as a string of amino acids. Each beat corresponds to one amino acid, and the piece is in 3/4 time, so each six measures would correspond to five turns around the alpha structure...
Amino acids with side chains that are neither aromatic (nor) aliphatic control the piano and organ: the nine non-hydrophobics the piano, and the four hydrophobics the organ. The three amino acids with aliphatic side chains control the low synthesizer, while the four with aromatics control the percussion."
So...magic, then? Yes, it happens via magic.
Despite being drawn into the world by a process that is about as comprehensible as reading Gravity's Rainbow
in a language you don't understand, the song itself is rather simple. It turns out to be an ambient electronic dirge, slow and steady, with plodding percussion, simple tonal melodies, and - believe it or not - a recurring theme or two.
It's not particularly bad or good; you can't hum along to it, but there's nothing about it that's too off-putting either - hence the need to call it an "ambient" piece. We've certainly heard better, but then again, the swine flu is a way easier listen than any random Venetian Snares