Site Overlay

Approach & Method (Sound follows function; SFF)

Within our creative approach we have designed a specific sound signature for Coronavirus SARS-CoV- 2. This unique sound signature consists of a composition of 5 sounds. Each sound is associated with a specific viral molecule / structure and reflects its biological function acoustically.

1) Spike Glycoprotein (S-Protein):

Why the name Corona?
It is due to this structural glycoprotein (~150 kDa in size) that forms conspicuous cone-shaped spike projections sticking out of the virus surface (Beniac et al. 2006). Resembling a crown and the suns corona, respectively, hence the name Coronavirus (Almeida et al. 1968; Sturman and Holmes 1983). Significant for infection these spikes mediate the attachment of the virus to the host cells surface and initiate the invading mechanism (Fehr et al. 2015).

Sound implications on the audible expression and parameters:
Intuitive associations: solid touch, attack, first contact, attachment, attention, lance like, tentacle like, nervous

Intermodal expression: sharp, pointed

Sound design parameter: impulsive, sharp, click/attack

2) Hemagglutinin-esterase (HE):
a transmembrane Glycoprotein (predicted ~48 kDa in size (Kinzle et al., 1990)) that is typical for ß- Coronaviruses. With its enzyme functions: receptor binding, receptor hydrolysis and membrane fusion it promotes the S-Protein in the attachment- and entry into the host cell process (Zang et al., 2008; Fehr et al., 2015).

Sound implications on the audible expression and parameters:

Intuitive associations: 5 fold smaller, enzymatic, precise, destruction, invasion, cutting

Intermodal expression: sharp, white/dark contrast

Sound design parameter: sharp frequency, high-frequency noise component

3) Membrane protein (M-Protein):
the most abundant structural protein (predicted ~26 kDa in size) which is thought to determine the virions shape (Armstrong et al. 1984). It has the ability to change its confirmation associated with rigidity on one hand and flexibility on the other stabilizing the membranes curvature of the envelope (Neuman et al., 2011).

Sound implications on the audible expression and parameters:

Intuitive associations: 5 fold smaller than the S-Protein, rigid, solid, fundamental, building block, brick like

Intermodal expression: square with round corners

Sound design parameter: percussive, noise, hard attack

4) Envelope:
composed by a membrane (phospholipid bilayer) that harbors the structural proteins (S-, HE-, M- Protein) and surrounds the Nucleocapsid (RNA-N-Protein-Complex), (Song et al., 2019).

Sound implications on the audible expression and parameters:

Intuitive associations: protective shield, protection, protective bubble, homeostasis, hydrophobic & hydrophile at the same time (amphoteric), flexible

Intermodal expression: high density and impermeability

Sound design parameter: white noise, (small) spatial reverb

5) ssRNA & N-Protein
comprising a helically symmetrical nucleocapsid (in combination with the N protein) with a conspicuously large genome of ~30 kilobase pairs. Two features that are rather uncommon among positive sense RNA viruses (Fehr et al, 2015).

Sound implications on the audible expression and parameters:

Intuitive associations: fundamental, mystical, ancient, danger, no virus without genetic material, ssRNA = virtually the virus, evolution, mutated, reverse genetics, symmetric, helical, negatively charged, nucleic acid, coding sequence

Intermodal expression: dark, intense

Sound design parameter: sub bass, modulation

More information about 4 major processes within the viral infection cycle :

Attachment & entry
The infection starts with the attachment of the Coronavirus to the host cells outer membrane. This is initiated by interactions between the viral Spike-Proteins and typically the host cell receptor protein angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE). Then, a protease of the host cell activates the spike protein. The interplay with the hemagglutinin-esterase enables the virus to enter the host cell by endocytosis.

Replicase protein expression
After entry into the host cell the virus is uncoated and its RNA is release in the cytoplasm. The viral RNA is recognized by the host cells ribosomes and translated into several proteins crucial for the replication process. One of these essential proteins is the RNA dependend RNA- Polymerase (RdRp)

Replication & transcription
The RdRp replicates the viral genomic RNA. Further it conducts the transcription of viral mRNAs into structural (e.g. Spike-protein) and accessory proteins.

Assembly & release
Finally, based on the synthesis of genomic RNA and N protein the viral nucleocapsids are assembled in the cytoplasm of the host cell and released from the infected cell through exocytosis.

Based on Fehr et al., 2015; Song et al., 2019 ; Shereen et al., 2020. For more details please refer to the corresponding literature.


Armstrong J, Niemann H, Smeekens S, Rottier P, Warren G. Sequence and topology of a model intracellular membrane protein, E1 glycoprotein, from a coronavirus. Nature. 1984; 308(5961): 751–752.

Barcena M, Oostergetel GT, Bartelink W, Faas FG, Verkleij A, Rottier PJ, Koster AJ, Bosch BJ. Cryo-electron tomography of mouse hepatitis virus: Insights into the structure of the coronavirion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2009; 106(2): 582–587.

Beniac DR, Andonov A, Grudeski E, Booth TF. Architecture of the SARS coronavirus prefusion spike. Nature structural & molecular biology. 2006; 13(8): 751–752.

Fehr AR & Perlman S. Coronaviruses: An Overview of Their Replication and Pathogenesis. Methods Mol Biol. 2015; 1282: 1–23.

Goldsmith CS, Tatti KM, Ksiazek TG, Rollin PE, Comer JA, Lee WW, Rota PA, Bankamp B, Bellini WJ, Zaki SR. Ultrastructural characterization of SARS coronavirus. Emerging Infective Disease. 2004; 10(2): 320–6.

Kienzle TE, Abraham S, Hogue BG, Brian DA. Structure and orientation of expressed bovine coronavirus hemagglutinin-esterase protein. Journal of virology. 1990; 64(4): 183 – 48

Neuman BW, Kiss G, Kunding AH, Bhella D, Baksh MF, Connelly S, Droese B, Klaus JP, Makino S, Sawicki SG, Siddell SG, Stamou DG, Wilson IA, Kuhn P, Buchmeier MJ. A structural analysis of M protein in coronavirus assembly and morphology. Journal of structural biology. 2011; 174(1): 11–22.

Shereen MA, Khan S, Kazmi A, Bashir N, Siddique R. COVID-19 infection: Origin, transmission, and characteristics of human coronaviruses. Journal of Advanced Research. 2020; 24: 91–98.

Song Z, Xu Y, Bao L, Zhang L, Yu P, Qu Y, Zhu H, Zhao W, Han Y, Qin C. From SARS to MERS, Thrusting Coronaviruses into the Spotlight. Viruses. 2019; 11(1): 59.

Sturman LS, & Holmes KV. The molecular biology of coronaviruses. Advances in virus research. 1983; 28 35–112.

WHO. WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 10 April 2020.—10-april-2020

Zeng Q, Langereis MA, van Vliet AL, Huizinga EG, de Groot RJ. Structure of coronavirus hemagglutinin-esterase offers insight into corona and influenza virus evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2008; 105(26): 9065–9.