09. November 2010 · 2 comments · Categories: News

We’re always hearing sobering news about the widespread AIDS epidemic, but, until now, you’ve probably never “heard” about HIV quite like this.

Alexandra Pajak, a graduate student at the University of Georgia, has just created a whole new way of looking at the complexities of HIV by combining the biology of the disease with music.

For months, Pajak carefully studied the different types of DNA that make up the AIDS virus and assigned musical pitches to each individual strand.

What resulted was a 17-track, 52-minute album of transcribed “DNA music,” appropriately dubbed “Sounds of HIV.”

Courtesy of Alexandra Pajak
University of Georgia grad student Alexandra Pajak has composed an album of classical music inspired by the DNA that makes up the AIDS virus. It’s an interesting new way to look at — and hear — the complexities of HIV.

“I wanted to show all of the properties that the DNA in HIV contains. Hopefully it’s a whole new way for people to learn about the science behind the disease,” Pajak told AOL News.

The graduate student — who studied music as an undergrad at Agnes Scott College — said the project took her more than three painstaking months to complete because she wanted to compose the most accurate musical translation possible of the genetic code of HIV.


I have read several articles on this music. It’s interesting to me that they were very concerned that people would take offense; I hadn’t really thought about it, but I suppose if what she “wrote” is beautiful, some might not care for it, considering the awful disease.

Pajak said she wrote and composed all of the classical tunes on her keyboard first, and then called for help from an instrumental band named “Sequence Ensemble” to lay down the final tracks.

The band brought a piano, flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and cello to blend all of her rhythms and patterns together and, to Pajak’s surprise, the songs ended up sounding rather “pleasant.”

I’ve only listening to short snippets — it’s rather beautiful to my little ears. I suppose I should give it a second chance. An excerpt (all piano) is here. Below is a different clip:

So I’m curious; does knowing what this is created from change the way you hear it?


  1. Didn’t hear it before I knew, so I don’t see how anything would change…

  2. Yeah, I guess that was a dumb thing to ask since everyone will read then listen.