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Sci-Pop: Darwin Dub

Sci-Pop: Darwin Dub



Who knew science and music could make such a handsome pair? Tune in every Monday and let the Null treat you to sci-pop classics, and some cheeky chat with the artists. Or sign up at iTunes to get your sci-pop delivered.  Go on, indulge your inner geek.


This week, we've been speaking to Professor Mark Pallen, who helped to turn Darwin into a dub star.

Darwin + Dub Music =
The Genomic Dub Collective

How would you want to celebrate Charles Darwin and the absolute genius that is On the Origin of Species? Following an encounter with the poet Benjamin Zephaniah at a Darwin Day celebration, Professor of Microbiology of Microbial Genomics at Birmingham University and renaissance man Mark Pallen joined forces with his then PhD student, Jamaican born Dom White, and decided to make an album of dub tracks based on Darwin's most important work. And so, back in 2005, the Genomic Dub Collective and The Origin of the Species in Dub was born.


PLAY THE SONG
GET THE LYRICS
HEAR THE INTERVIEW
WHO ARE THEY?
Staying true to both the cultures of science and dub (this is no novelty reggae), the tracks combine verbatim readings of The Origin with explorations and celebrations of the work in Jamaican English. They help tell the story and context of Darwin's ideas, from the voyage of the Beagle where Darwin first started to develop his theories, to the theory of natural selection (see 'Play the Song') itself. They discuss the misuse of Darwinian theory by social Darwinists and Nazism, and celebrate in true Rastafarian and evolutionary biologist style our collective motherland of Africa.

One track, 'Same DNA Control I and I', even highlights the synthesis of natural selection and molecular biology that is Neo-Darwinism by quoting a Rastafarian who called in to a talk radio show in Jamaica: "Well, Darwin just a show dem, seh, the same DNA what control the plants and the animal a de same DNA dat control I an’ I" (although the anonymous Rasta isn't quite right - DNA wasn't identified as the genetic material until the 1940s - his intentions were good).

With 2009 seeing 200 years since the Darwin's birth, this is a perfect time to make yourself familiar these mind blowing yet elegantly simple ideas, and what better way to do so than through dub reggae. Who knows, by next year you could be inspired to compose a psychedelic space rock opera on the subject. If you do, you know where to send it...


Mark Pallen is currently writing Rough Guide to Evolution, which contains the 'Ultimate Evolutionary Music Playlist' - perfect for parties...

Words by Neal Anthwal, interview by Hayley Birch.

Listen to last week's Sci-Pop Single, or check out more stuff on sci-pop, love and the like at the Null:


- The List - The definitive list of sci-pop songs, created by our readers
- Geek Pop - The Null's virtual sci-pop festival
- Podcast - The Null Pod archive - sometimes we play jingles
- Evolution - It used to be good to be hairy...

Title image: W
Other image: Genomic Dub Collective




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20 Jul 2017
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