Alexandra Pajak - Sounds of HIV
Azica ACD-71260 (www.azica.com)
I have to admit – at first, expressing nucleotides of the genome of a virus as pitches of the melodic scale struck me as a gimmick. Yes, one could draw a connection between adenosine and A, between cytosine and C and so on, but to what end? Once the music started, however, this approach became much harder to dismiss. Applying scientific rigour to music is nothing new and has been done in the past with math (both Satie and Bartok used the golden ratio for their works), so why not with biochemistry? Alexandra Pajak, native of Athens, Georgia studied both composition and sciences and her work reveals a fascination with both subjects. Then there is a general sense of unease, creeping in. This undeniably beautiful music expresses HIV, a virus responsible for the destruction of much beauty and art. On one hand, it’s tempting to assume that nature’s creations achieve a high level of symmetry and beauty and a virus should not be exempt from that principle. On the other hand, what terrible beauty is there to be found should we glimpse inside the genome of the plague, syphilis, smallpox or even flu? These ruminations tend to accompany listening to this oddly-concordant composition, performed with aplomb by the Sequence Ensemble. A special mention goes to Timothy Whitehead, whose piano decodes the protein connections with an astonishing clarity. This strange and disturbing recording reveals itself to be much more than just a mere gimmick!