So, we all learned about Darwin and natural selection at some point, right? If not, I might lose you here. But stick with me anyway. A few scientists at Imperial College London, recently decided to apply the theory of natural selection to music. After studying popular music styles over several generations, they noticed something we all take for granted: music evolves over time, yes, but it also maintains some key tenets along the way. What we like sonically also evolves just like the human and animal species do.
To track this theory, Robert MacCallum (bioinformaticist) and Armand Leroi (Professor of Evolutionary Developmental Biology) created DarwinTunes, a program that tests the theory of evolution within a musical dimension. The leaders of this project develop genomic research tools for the insect disease vector community and host a TV series on genetics and evolution, so it’s serious stuff we’re talking about here.
There are two opportunities to participate: one is for a channel without drums and percussion, the other channel includes it. As you listen, vote for whether or not you like the sound loop. All of the votes get combined into one loop of music that evolves according to taste. Fascinating. Have a listen:
There are skeptics to this approach, of course, which you can read about here. And for the text of their research findings thus far, go here.
Why I’m Curious
Well, I’m a curious person. And I absolutely love that scientists are looking at data in realms outside the world of strict science to see what else can be uncovered. Patterns are truly everywhere: from the natural to the manufactured world and it just gets me going (see my data post from PSFK to see how excited I get). Naysayers included, it’s a worthy exercise in understanding the world around us, and how it’s created, shaped and formed.
Also, hat tip to the blog It’s Okay to Be Smart. Full of science and interestingness, it’s a great site to pique your curiousity and it makes science accessible and fun. And it’s where I found out about DarwinTunes/