Song created based on Ludwig van Beethoven’s hair DNA

Updated: Feb 16, 2012, 09:08 AM IST

London: A Scottish composer has written a score based on Ludwig van Beethoven’s DNA from his hair clippings.

Stuart Mitchell worked with a team including musician Martin Aelred to produce the masterpiece.

After the German composer died in 1827, the lock of his hair was passed down through the generations - and even survived Auschwitz, being hidden from guards inside a prisoner’s bottom.

After the camp was liberated at the end of the war, the prisoner retrieved the hair and it was eventually sold at Sotheby’s in 2009, the Daily Mail reported.

The team, then helped by Italian artist Nicholuas Caposina, got permission from the new owner to take a tiny DNA sample from it.

The DNA was passed to Scots composer Mitchell, who is involved with a technique called ‘Cymatics’, which focuses on the shapes that musical frequencies make when passed through either water or a layer of sand.

The team analysed the DNA and used a graph of Ludwig’s genes to ‘write’ the music. The composers added lyrics from a love letter Beethoven penned to a mistress.

Mitchell pinpointed the 22 unique amino acids in Beethoven’s DNA and assigned to each one a note on a musical stave directly related to the amino acids’ resonant frequency.

From these frequencies he composed a piece of music for piano and viola based on Beethoven’s DNA.

The work has been made into a five-minute recording, which is on worldwide release, with the team saying it is effectively a new piece composed by Beethoven two centuries after he died.

“Everyone expected to hear it in the style of Beethoven but the melody is almost tragic. To me it sounds like somebody fighting, struggling, a really sympathetic melody with a great deal of soul,” Stuart said.