The year 2020 will be remembered for one thing so obvious to all of us that naming it seems ridiculous. The Covid-19coronavirus pandemic will be a chapter in all of our life-stories.

This work was created in February 2020 and premiered at alive in-person concert (harmonic. function) in Edinburgh, Scotland on 5th March. It was created with the context of the developing pandemic - before we knew. It was performed in the context of cognitive dissonance – before we acknowledged. Both the host and audience – containing a large quotient of research biologists – tittered at the suggestion that anyone had not heard of the virus, though all were still out at a concert unmasked. Amid universal uncertainty, the piece was borne of, and reflecting on, that overload of political and scientific opinion.

The piece is created using a sonification process of the protein sequence of the replicase polyprotein, the method by which coronaviruses replicate in host cells. This sonification process is then live-mixed alongside vocal samples by a performer to create the audio of the piece. A video demonstrating a similar viral process in a retrovirus accompanies the sound.

The piece represents the time before lockdown, mirroring a state of mind of academic (dis-)interest in the unforeseen burgeoning pandemic. It was an attempt to understand what was going on. It is now an artefact of that unique time.


This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International License. The full terms of the License are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Cite as

Martin, E. 2021, 'SARS coronavirus replicase sonification', Sounding Board: Complete proceedings of the 26th International Conference on Auditory Display (ICAD2021), Virtual, 25-28 June, pp. 305-307. https://doi.org/10.21785/icad2021.000

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Last updated: 03 September 2022
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