Evo Devo Music consists of ongoing collaborative research and creative projects by Anna Lindemann and Eric Lindemann in which we explore the use of biological evolutionary and developmental (Evo Devo) processes in the creation of music. Our mission is to use the Evo Devo processes that have produced the great diversity of life on earth, to create artworks with, as Charles Darwin put it, "endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful.” Our Evo Devo Music research aims to investigate generative approaches to music composition that result in musical works with "real structure"—works with modularity, repetition, and hierarchyOur Evo Devo Music is developed using algorithms created in Matlab, and sonified using a variety of musical synthesis techniques. The collaboration is influenced by our backgrounds in evolutionary developmental biology, digital signal processing, music synthesis, art-science performance, and music composition.

We have pursued two strands of research to date: Gene Network Music and Musical Organisms. The research for Gene Network Music, begun in 2012, develops music based on the dynamics of gene regulatory networks. The research for Musical Organisms, begun in 2015, develops music modeled on the dynamics of cell division and cell differentiation during multicellular organismal development.

We have presented our work at the 2015 International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA) in Vancouver, Canada and at the 2015 Experimental Music Week at the ATLAS Institute at University of Colorado Boulder. 

An overview of the field of Evo Devo and the origins of Evo Devo Art

Gene Network Music

Using the rhythmic patterns of gene network expression to create music

Gene Network Music Examples (2013)

These pieces of Gene Network Music were created by "playing" the rhythms of gene activation produced by gene network simulations that were generated algorithmically in Matlab. We used sampled, synthesized sounds to sonify the networks. “Gene Network Free Jazz” and “Gene Network Jazz” were generated without edits or post-production.

The music for Beetle Bluffs was created using the Gene Network Music system, and realized using sampled synthesized sounds. Beetles Bluffs is a film by Anna Lindemann, developed in collaboration with Brian Farrell, Curator of Entomology at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. The film illuminates the evolution of the adaptive color pattern found across nine Cuban beetle species. More about the film can be found here.

Musical Organisms

Creating music like biology creates organisms


The zebrafish grows from a single cell to a complex, structured embryo with thousands of cells
Stills from a zebrafish development visualization by Fengzhu Xiong and Sean Megason (Harvard Medical School) www.olympusbioscapes.com 

Development of a Musical Organism

The musical organism grows from a single note to a musical embryo with hundreds of organized notes and visible repeated structure
Stills from the development of a music organism by Anna Lindemann and Eric Lindemann

Listen to a Musical Organism and Watch It Grow

In our Musical Organisms, cells are notes. Just as each cell of a living organism contains that organism's entire genome, each note of a musical organism contains that musical organism's entire musical genome. In Gene Network Music, the gene networks themselves become sonified, in Musical Organisms, a gene network becomes the regulator of note identities in the Musical Organism. Different genes control different aspects of the note's "phenotype," for example the note's pitch and duration and the timing of a note undergoing "cell" division and "cell" death.  Notes can produce "cell signals" which can influence surrounding notes, resulting in differences between notes and, ultimately, musical structure. 


How do we create the musical genomes that are capable of developing complex structure in our Musical Organisms? We use the same process that biology does: evolution. One of the most familiar mechanisms of evolution is natural selection, commonly referred to as "survival of the fittest." Only certain individuals within any given population (those that are the most fit) will survive and reproduce. As a result, the (genetic) makeup of the population evolves (it changes from one generation to the next). With our Musical Organisms, we develop fitness functions that guide the selection and evolution of populations of Musical Organisms. 

A simple illustration of evolution shows a population of musical organisms evolving towards a chromatic scale. Note that the Video shows only a small sample of individuals from a larger population.

A glimpse of the Matlab code for the chromatic scale fitness function

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The process of hybridization is one means of evolving complexity in biological organisms. We use hybridization to evolve complexity in our musical organisms too. We begin with musical organisms with different musical structures or properties. By combining the genomes of those varied musical organisms, we create a new genome that can regulate the development of a new organism with a hybrid of properties from the initial organisms. 

Initial Population #1 : "Fingers"

Examples of "Fingers" + "Hairy" Hybrids

Initial Population #2 : "Hairy" 

An Individual Hybrid Organism : "Hairy Fingers"

News & Events

ASCI Featured Member May 2016
Anna Lindemann: Evo Devo Music

Anna Lindemann discusses Evo Devo Music in an interview with Art & Science Collaborations Inc. as their May 2016 Featured Member. 

Rhythm Zoo at ISEA2015

August 16, 2015 - SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, Vancouver, BC, Canada - More Info

"Rhythm Zoo: Music Composition Modeled on Genetic Networks" by Anna Lindemann and Eric Lindemann
ISEA2015 Proceedings of the 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art

Evo Devo Music at the ATLAS Summer Experimental Music Symposium

August 5, 2015 - ATLAS Institute, Univeristy of Colorado Boulder - More Info