How a Musical Petri Dish Could Waste Your Whole Morning

You know those things you occasionally come across that look kind of cool and you think might be good for a minute or two of diversion? You know how it’s all fine and dandy until you somehow get sucked in and, before you know it, half the day is gone? Yeah. Meet Seaquence.

Seaquence is an online web app created by Ryan Alexander, Gabriel Dunne, and Daniel Massey, with support from Gray Area Foundation for the Arts. It is described as “an experiment in musical composition,” where “adopting a biological metaphor, you can create and combine musical lifeforms resulting in an organic, dynamic composition.” It’s basically an online petri dish where you add little squiggly creatures that make music. You control what combination of sounds each creature makes by adding antennae or changing the wiggle pattern of their bodies. When you’re done, you have a little virtual ambient orchestra; an ecosystem of minuscule musicians that you have guided, shaped and molded to your exact specifications. Oh, the power! Muaaa-haa-haa!

Hold on a second, though, Dr. Evil. Bring the pinky finger away from your mouth. I have a little more to tell you before you head off to engage in musical world domination. Playing with Seaquence is pretty easy, once you know about the basic controls. From the Seaquence website:

The way each creature looks and sounds is determined by the step-sequencer pattern, and other parameters you can tweak including their audio waveform, octave, scale, melody, envelope, and volume.

You can add multiple creatures to your dish by clicking the ‘add’ button at the top right of the screen. The combination of different creatures results in unique compositions that always change due to the creatures’ movement. You can click and drag on the world to move around your composition.

Oh, and when you’re all done, you can save your composition and send a link to your creation to your friends so they can fully appreciate your omnipotence, too! And then THEY can think, “Hmmm, this looks like it could entertain me for five minutes,” and then they’ll get hooked on it a for an hour, and, pretty soon, the world’s productivity will grind to a halt as we all succumb to creating billions of petri dishes’ worth of cute little musical microorganisms! But, as a consolation, at least the soundtrack will be lovely.

Check out a demo of how to use Seaquence here, and then go make some music!


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Caroline Sober

Caroline is a senior software developer at Promega. She’s not a scientist, so if you hear her talking about DNA purification or pipetting or current issues in bioprivacy, she’s totally faking it and you should tell her to hush. She is, however, passionate about building useful software, the interactions between people and technology in general, and how social media is changing the conversation between companies and customers. She lives in Madison with her husband, daughter, and 110-pound dog.

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