Analysis of the vibrational and sound spectrum of over 100,000 protein structures and application in sonification

Zhao Qin, Markus J. Buehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We report a high-throughput method that enables us to automatically compute the vibrational spectra of more than 100,000 proteins available in the Protein Data Bank to date, in a consistent manner. Using this new algorithm we report a comprehensive database of the normal mode frequencies of all known protein structures, which has not been available before. We then use the resulting frequency spectra of the proteins to generate audible sound by overlaying the molecular vibrations and translating them to the audible frequency range using the music theoretic concept of transpositional equivalence. The method, implemented as a Max audio device for use in a digital audio workstation (DAW), provides unparalleled insights into the rich vibrational signatures of protein structures, and offers a new way for creative expression by using it as a new type of musical instrument. This musical instrument is fully defined by the vibrational feature of almost all known protein structures, making it fundamentally different from all the traditional instruments that are limited by the material properties of a few types of conventional engineering materials, such as wood, metals or polymers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100460
JournalExtreme Mechanics Letters
StatePublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Audio
  • Big data
  • Instrument
  • Molecular mechanics
  • Protein
  • Sonification
  • Structural analysis
  • Synthesis
  • Vibration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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