new lab, developed by 23andMe’s Mark Ackerley, gives customers the opportunity to create a unique melody from their DNA. Mark, a composer trained at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, developed an algorithm that sorts through bits of your genetic data to create a melody that is totally personal. “It’s fundamentally different because we look at so many parts of an individual’s DNA, that the total possible number of melodies is very high,” Mark explains. Others have used DNA sequences – the chain of As, Cs, Gs and Ts that make up our genetic code – to create musical arrangements. But in those cases the code mostly provids a leaping off point for a composer to write an original tune. What Mark has done is different because the melody isn’t just inspired by your DNA, like you, the melody is created by it. Creation of the tune is fully automated with every note derived from your DNA. He did this by breaking down the essential parts of a melody – the pitch, rhythm, key and timbre of a piece of music – and then created an algorithm that uses your 23andMe data to make selections for each of those different components. He created a way to automatically arrange them so that the tool can assemble a coherent and pleasing melody each time. “By using these guidelines we ensure we won’t get random notes or disjointed melodies,” he said. It starts by using some of the 50 traits 23andMe reports to customers – height, for instance, or eye color – and assigning a specific rhythmic value based on your specific genotype. Rhythm is the duration of time that a note is held and provides the framework for the melody. The music lab then chooses a key using your assigned maternal haplogroup. So if your maternal haplogroup is H, for instance, it might select the key of C Major. Once the rhythm and key are determined the algorithm selects the pitches using some of the traits 23andMe reports on. Mark included guidelines to ensure that the melodies created abide by certain musical conventions while also keeping it free enough to produce plenty of variety.