Music and Yeast / 音楽と酵母

 This personal project was presented and exhibited at the BHA3 graduation show at FabCafe MTRL in Shibuya, during the week of June 4 - 11, 2016.

このパーソナルプロジェクトは2016年6月4日〜11日の間、渋谷のFabCafe MTRLで行われたBHA3 graduation showで発表、展示されたものです。

Background / プロジェクトの背景

Brewing process of Japanese Sake fascinates me. Even-though Basic raw materials are rice and water only, fermentation by Koji-mold and yeasts bring out numerous varieties of flavor. I encountered “sake song” during the sake brewery tours.

In an era when the clock didn’t exist in Japan, traditional sake brewers used to sing sake songs to check a long process of brewing. Since brewing technology has been advanced, sake songs are gradually forgotten now.

I started to think possibilities to store the sake songs to the sake yeast. The goal of this project is to make fermented food and drink by yeast, which has music DNA.





  1. Encoding music to DNA sequence
  2. Encoding DNA sequence to Music
    • Searching yeast, which has similar DNA to music DNA.
    • Encoding similar yeast DNA to Music


  1. 音楽をDNA塩基配列に変換する
  2. DNA塩基配列から音楽に変換する
    • 変換した音楽DNAに似たDNAをもつ酵母をデータベースから探す
    • 類似酵母のDNAを音楽に戻す

1. Encoding music to DNA sequence / 音楽をDNA塩基配列に変換する

I tried some different ways to encode music to DNA sequence. Finally, I decided to encode music (sake song) to DNA sequence based on amino acid molecular weight. The twenty amino acids are mapped to a musical scale (pitch) and duration. Two amino acids are assigned to each note. A specific amino acid corresponds with a DNA codon, which is a sequence of three DNA nucleotides (T, C, A and/or G). So that music is encoded to DNA sequence.

  • Multiple DNA codons corresponds with a amino acid. If same amino acid is assigned to pitch/duration once, different DNA codon will be assigned. So that DNA codon is always changing (to avoid erroneous DNA sequence).



一つのアミノ酸は3つの塩基(A,T,C,Gのうちのどれか三つ コドン/トリプレットと呼ばれるもの)で構成されている。

  • 1つのアミノ酸には複数のコドン()が割り当てられているため、同じアミノ酸が繰り返し使用された場合に、常に異なるコドンを選択するというルールを作りました。

Is that possible to transfer music(sake song) DNA sequence to yeast? / 音楽をDNA塩基配列に変換したものを酵母に導入することは可能か?

It is possible to transfer music DNA sequence to yeast without affecting biological function of yeast as recombinant DNA or plasmid.

作成した配列を酵母に、生体機能に影響なく、組換えで導入することは可能。 もしくは、組換えを起こさないまま、遊離(プラスミド)の状態でもたせることも可能。

2. Encoding DNA sequence to Music

Searching yeast, which has similar DNA to music (sake song) DNA through the DNA database (BLAST). The yeast, which has similar DNA sequences, is found.


Then, A music is encoded from similar yeast DNA. 類似酵母のDNAを音楽に変換した

**Encoded DNA music file will be available here soon…/ 変換したDNAの音楽は近日中にアップします。

3. How does yeast recognize the sound? / 酵母は音を認識するか否か?

While exploring the ways to encode music to DNA, a new question is provoked. ”How does yeast recognize the sound?” To find out this, an experiment is conducted based on the encoded sake song DNA.


  1. Encoding sake song to DNA sequence based on amino acid molecular weight.
  2. Making three sound proof boxes, and placing a petri dish with cultured yeast into each box. Then observing how yeasts grow within different sound environments; * (Box1) No sound. * (Box2) Playing a sake song. * (Box3) Searching yeast, which has similar DNA to sake song DNA. Then playing a song, which is composed from similar yeast DNA.



  1. タンパク質を構成するアミノ酸の分子量を元に、酒造り唄をDNA塩基配列に変換。
  2. 防音した箱を3つ作成。酵母を培養したシャーレをそれぞれの箱に入れ、異なる音環境で一定期間培養し、成長の違いを観察する。
    • (箱1)音無し
    • (箱2)酒造り唄を再生
    • (箱3)音楽DNAと類似のDNAをもつ酵母をデータベースから検索。類似酵母のDNAを音楽に変換し、再生。

Sake Song Yeast

Encoding a Traditional Sake Song to DNA sequence


  • Traditional Sake Brewing songs are work songs when sake is brewed. In 17th century, Sake brewers sang these songs to check a long process of brewing, and also to keep the good rhythm of teamwork etc…
  • In 20th century, brewing technology has been advanced, and brewing process are reduced, so these sake brewing songs are gradually forgotten.
  • Those songs were passed down from generation to generation by oral tradition. So, I started to think how those songs can be brought down to posterity.

  • [Traditional sake song 1]
  • [Traditional sake song 2]


Finding the ways;

  • to encode music to DNA sequence

Exploring stories/products;

  • How does the sake song yeast work?
  • Assumable stories and/or products made from Sake song yeasts


  1. Understanding characteristics of sake yeast (culturing and isolating yeast from sake lees)
  2. Researching the existing logic of DNA to Music (and vice versa) encoding.
  3. Encoding short Music phrase to DNA sequence
  4. Exploring the stories and/or products based on findings from the above process 1, 2 and 3.

My first selection of bio-related POP music is…

“Nomus et Phusis” by stereolab (2000)

This track is included in the album “The First of the Microbe Hunters”. The album title makes reference to the book called “Microbe Hunters” by Paul Henry de Kruif (microbiologist/author). “The First of the Microbe Hunters” is the first chapter of this book and dedicated to Dutch scientist Anton van Leeuwenhoek. Leeuwenhoek is known as “the Father of Microbiology”.