Bacteria sing: biology synth Micro-ritmos

By Russell Barnes. Posted

Micro-ritmos is a musical instrument that automatically generates songs based on biology.

Micro-ritmos is a biology musical instrument that automatically generates songs based on the movement of bacteria cells.

A Raspberry Pi is used to observe the patterns formed in a bacterial cell. Their movements are transformed into audio noises.

With Micro-ritmos you can hear bacteria singing.

The patterns are used to generate music using SuperCollider. This open-source software provides a platform for audio synthesis.

A Raspberry Pi and Camera Module is used to observe the patterns in a biological cell. The bacteria triggers light patterns, which are watched by the Raspberry Pi.

Inside the project, a Python program watches the bacterial cells. It then uses this info with SuperCollider. RaspiHub calls it "live-coding created by a biological process."

Micro-ritmos from LessNullVoid on Vimeo.

Build a biology synth and hear bacteria sing

The team behind the Micro-ritmos is Mexican. They are Paloma López, Leslie Garcia and Emmanuel Anguiano. The team is called Interspecfics.

"Micro-rhythms is a sound spatialization system where we use pattern recognition generated by potential variations in bacterial cells," says Interspifics (via Google Translate)."

It uses "machine learning written in Python and running on Raspberry Pi," the team says. "The system produces a kind of graphic score that is generated autonomously and in real-time."

Nature is a wonderful thing. And we are loving a lot of recent projects that combine Raspberry Pi with the biological elements.

Inside the Micro-ritmos is a biological material known as Geobacter.  According to, these organisms are interesting "because of their novel electron transfer capabilities, the ability to transfer electrons outside the cell and transport these electrons over long distances via conductive filaments known as microbial nanowires."

We think Micro-ritmos is one of the most intriguing projects we've seen in a while. It's created as an art installation. We hope it goes on display in Mexico soon.

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