The Genomic Dub Collective
The Genomic Dub Collective consists of two individuals who make the music, with two others who assist with organiztion and mixing. What follows is a manifesto we wrote in support of an application to the Wellcome Trust's SciArt scheme. We aim to create a new musical genre, Genomic Dub, that celebrates recent successes in the field of genomics and evolutionary biology. We also aim to highlight common threads that link current scientific, artistic and social issues with the past (e.g. the Darwins' involvement in the anti-slavery movement), and to explore the potential for encoding macromolecular (protein and DNA) sequence data into dub music.
We aim to engage the interest of both the scientific and wider public, bringing an appreciation of science to sections of society who usually ignore or devalue it and an appreciation of reggae and of Jamaican culture to a scientific audience. We aim to stimulate interest in science and its impact on society through cover notes for our dub tracks.
This project draws on the skills, knowledge and experience of an eclectic mix of individuals, united by a common love of science and music, including: a Professor of Microbial Genomics, a Jamaican scientist who is a native speaker of Jamaican Creole, a talented programmer with experience of organising student events and a clinical psychologist with extensive experience as a musician and events organiser.
To give birth to a new musical genre, Genomic Dub, that:
Modern biology was born in 1859 with the publication of Darwin's "Origin of Species." This was followed in the early 20th century by the modern synthesis between the Darwinian and Mendelian paradigms. In 1930, the term "genome" entered the English language to describe a complete set of haploid chromosomes. Since then, the meaning of the term has become generalized to cover all the genetic material within an organism.
1995 marked the birth of the genomic revolution in biology with the completion of the first genome sequence of a free-living organism, the Gram-negative bacterium Haemophilus influenzae. In 2001, on Darwin's birthday (February 12th), the completion of a draft sequence of the human genome was announced, followed in April 2003 by publication of a complete reference sequence. Genomics has revolutionized all areas of biology, especially the field of bacteriology, where hundreds of bacterial genome sequences are now available. Humankind's most fearful microbial adversaries have been captured in silico—from the cause of the white plague (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) to the black death (Yersinia pestis)—and their innermost secrets can now be queried on our desktop computers.
Genomics promises to revolutionize our attack on disease but also brings new ethical concerns. By highlighting the differences between humans and our closest relative the chimpanzee, genomics promises to tell us what it is to be human; by highlighting how little we all differ from one another, genomics emphasizes our common humanity. Given its immense social and scientific importance, we believe that the time is right to celebrate the genomics revolution and bring its achievements to a wider audience through music!
Dub music was born in Jamaica in the early 1970s, largely though the work of Osbourne Ruddock ("King Tubby"). It is characterised by an emphasis on sound processing effects (e.g. echo, reverb), with vocals and instruments, especially drums and bass, dropping in and out of the mix. Although some practitioners of Dub have adopted names that hint at a respect for science ("Scientist", "Dub Scientist", "Mad Professor", "Salmonella Dub") or have drawn on themes from Science Fiction ("Death of Mr Spock", "Son of Darth Vader", "The Alien Aborts"), no one has so far used it as a vehicle for improving public access to and appreciation of science (although Dub Poet Linton Kwesi Johnson comes close with his "Reality Poem": "dis is di age of science an' teknalagy!"). We intend not only to do this, but also to use Dub as a medium for the creation of captivating sequence music. Dub is ideally suited for these purposes, as it a highly flexible musical genre, that has the potential to extend far beyond its Jamaican roots in traditional reggae. Examples of the flexibility of the medium include the Reggae All-Stars' "Dub Side of the Moon" (a reinterpretation of the Pink Floyd album), Rubadubatavo by Wally Brill (makes a dub out of Jewish Cantor's religious singing in Hebrew), numerous dubs of Punk tracks (e.g. see recent collection "Wild Dub: Dread meets Punk Rocker") and the work of Fizze (mixes numerous influences into his dubs, including Swiss yodelling and the Muslim call to prayer).
In creating Genomic Dub, we aim to produce music that is interesting and exciting to listen to and, at least in some tracks, encodes biological sequence data into dub music. In exploiting this medium to celebrate the achievements of science and scientists, to explore links between contemporary social and scientific issues and those in the past, and to create synaesthetic visual displays, we aim to bring an improved appreciation of science to a wider public, including sections of society under-represented in science such as Afro-Caribbean and the hearing impaired.