465 words | 4 mintue read | Flesch–Kincaid readability score: Grade 8

Are your ferns drooping more than usual? Perhaps a bit of music may perk it up, for it is a known fact that music plays an important role in plant growth. But plants are choosy about the kind of music they want to hear.

Experiments show that plants thrive if soothing instrumental music is played in the background. On the other hand they shrivel and die if exposed to heavy metal or rock music. And now a Japanese company has created a gadget that puts you in touch with the ‘feelings’ of plants.

This gadget gauges the electrical activity in plants and can register a plant’s response when exposed to music. The device is called the Plantone and has two sensor clips that are attached to the leaves of the plant.

When the device’s lamp turns red, it means a strong electrical current has passed within the plant’s cells. It signifies a positive response. A green light on the other hand occurs when the cell electrical signals are weak, signifying a negative or unhappy response.

So plants respond to music, but did you know that plants create music, too? Well, a biologist from England, Dr Linda Long, has discovered that the molecular structure of proteins found in plants can be used to create music. The question is how.

All living matter contains proteins. Proteins are the basic building blocks of life and are essential for cell growth, muscular movement and transmission of hereditary characteristics.

A vine that looks like a clef.
A vine that looks like a clef. Clef is a musical symbol used to indicate the pitch of written notes.

Seven sequences for seven notes
Proteins are made up of a group of an organic compound called amino acids. These amino acids are nothing but combination of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur.

Dr. Long grouped these combinations into seven sequences. Then she related the seven sequences with the seven musical notes – a note per sequence.

After this she created a software which simply read the structure of a protein and converted it into the corresponding musical notes. They thought they would get random notes; instead the sequence formed a tune.

Each protein in a plant has its own specific tune, which means that if an organism has 100 proteins, 100 musical compositions can be created. Dr Long, who plays the keyboard apart from studying plant proteins, has now turned artist.

She has made a 25 minute CD called Music of Plants by putting together the tunes created by certain proteins found in the common coriander and mustard plant, among others.

For her next musical project she intends to turn the proteins found in the human body into music. And considering the human body has an estimated 30,000 different proteins, she certainly has her work cut out!