UNESCO stores Deep Purple song in DNA

Deep PurpleUNESCO stores Deep Purple song in DNA

“Smoke on the Water” used to demonstrate cutting-edge information technology

By David Sands
October 4, 2017

Deep Purple’s classic song, “Smoke on the Water,” is being honored by UNESCO in an incredibly novel way. The U.N. agency, which is dedicated to educational, scientific, and cultural matters, has decided to use DNA coding to preserve “Smoke On The Water” as well as the Miles Davis tune “Tutu” in its Memory of the World Archive. After being coded the songs were then decoded and played on Sept. 29 at the ArtTech Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

UNESCO received assistance from Twist Bioscience, Microsoft and University of Washington researchers for the experimental procedure used to encode the songs, both of which were taken from a recording in the Montreux Jazz Festival archive. Their storage of the two archival-quality audio recordings marks the first time DNA has been used to store data in this manner.  The science behind the procedure involves storing the A, C, G and T nucleobases that make up DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) into patterns that can replicate the songs. Information stored this way can remain safe and stable for thousands of years.

“We archived two magical musical pieces on DNA of this historic collection, equating to 140MB of stored data in DNA,” Dr. Karin Strauss, a Senior Researcher at Microsoft, and one of the project’s leaders said in a statement. “The amount of DNA used to store these songs is much smaller than one grain of sand. Amazingly, storing the entire six petabyte Montreux Jazz Festival’s collection would result in DNA smaller than one grain of rice.”

Appearing on Deep Purple’s 1972 album Machine Head, “Smoke on the Water,” recounts the true story of how Deep Purple watched a casino in Montreux, Switzerland where they had planned to record an album burn down to the ground. The title for the song came to bassist Roger Glover after he awoke from a dream shortly after the incident.

Deep Purple will be touring Europe in November in support of their 20th album, Infinite.

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