Capturing Cancer with Music

What is Capturing Cancer with Music?

The Capturing Cancer with Music Program is developed by the Maley Lab at Arizona State University to provide a new way to model cancer growth and treatment.

Why use music to model cancer?

Cancer visualizations are generally two dimensional and it can be difficult to capture the dynamic nature of cancer. Music allows tumor growth to be conceptualized in a different manner. Additionally, sheet music is a sequence of notes which are similar to the sequence of genes in a genome. This allows many of the same modifications that can occur in genetic code of a tumor cell.

How do we use music to model cancer?

MusicXML files allow both sheet music and musical sound to be shared. Because it is easily edited, it is an ideal format for simulating cancer growth (MusicXML files can be downloaded from Our program will validate and read compressed (.mxl) and uncompressed (.xml or .musicxml) input files, model tumor growth based on the options you specify, and return a compressed MusicXML file. It will also optionally convert the ouput file to mp3, midi, or pdf (for sheet music). It can be read by a variety of programs, but we recomend MuseScore since it is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux and is the most robust when reading edited files.

For an explanation of how to use the program, see our tutorial.

View the full description on the Arizona Cancer Evolution page.