Beethoven’s Genes Suggest Low Predisposition for Beat Synchronization

What the exceptional composer's DNA tells us about genetics

Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the most celebrated musicians in human history, has a rather low genetic predisposition for beat synchronization, according to a Current Biology study co-authored by Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and theMax Planck Institutes for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The open-access article was published March 25, 2024 and is titled “Notes from Beethoven’s Genome.” The question of to what extent are exceptional human achievements influenced by genetic factors dates back to the early days of human genetics but seems to be easier to address today as modern molecular methods make it possible to analyze DNA of individuals throughout history. An international team of researchers analyzed Beethoven's DNA to investigate his genetic musical predisposition, an ability closely related to musicality, by using sequences from a 2023 study in which the composer’s genetic material was extracted from strands of his hair. 

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