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The Symphony of Extremes - Visit Finland and Apocalyptica create music from Finnish DNA

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The song was created as part of Visit Finland campaign entitled 'The Symphony of the Extremes - Born from Finnish DNA'. The idea behind the project is to delve deep into the Finnish psyche to introduce Finland's cultural core through a musical execution of putting the DNA structure to music.

SHANGHAI - Visit Finland hosted the world premiere of The Symphony of Extremes, a unique new piece of music based on Finnish DNA and composed by Eicca Toppinen from the famous Finnish cello metal band Apocalyptica. The song and its accompanying video fuse art, science and travel in a completely new way, representing the Finnish mindset and the land's strong contrasts. It will be included in Apocalyptica's upcoming new album and will be performed at their live concert.

The song was created as part of Visit Finland campaign entitled 'The Symphony of the Extremes - Born from Finnish DNA'. The idea behind the project is to delve deep into the Finnish psyche to introduce Finland's cultural core through a musical execution of putting the DNA structure to music.

A number of professionals at the apex of their fields including Jonathan Middleton, visiting professor at the University of Tampere who has developed a program that can create sounds from the base pairs found in DNA; and Eicca Toppinen, a member of the Finnish cello metal band Apocalyptica formed in 1993, who composed the new piece of music based on DNA samples gathered around Finland by geneticists.

The professionals have worked together for 4 months and followed the creative process and highlighted a group of noteworthy people behind the genes. Several individual sounds and notes throughout the song that are sourced directly from the collected DNA material.

Finland's genome is the most diverse type in Europe. Finland has always been at the crossroads of east and west. Its roots go both ways. Throughout history, people from various corners of Europe and Asia have migrated towards the patch of land that is Finland today. Finland is also one of the most uniform, equalitarian and safe nations in the world. These quality attracts people from all over the world.

"Finland is an appealing destination, especially thanks to the authenticity and extremes that visitors can experience here. These extremes are everywhere: in the people and seasons, our light and darkness, cold and heat - as well as water in all its forms", head of Visit Finland Paavo Virkkunen from Finpro explains.

He sees that distinctive marketing is exactly the right way to set Finland apart from neighbouring countries.  Authenticity is key for traveller's experience.

Finland has been attracting an unprecedented level of positive attention internationally in 2017, the 100th Anniversary of the country's independence. Finland was named one of the top countries in the world for travellers by the Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2017 and waves of tourists have been attracted to Finland by their 2017 calendar of centennial celebrations and events. Finland Tourism has been experiencing the great boost in China alongside Finnish Prime Minister's Visit.

"We wanted to tell Finland's story through an experiment that unites art, science and travel. This symphony is a brilliant example of Finland's innovative spirit. Also, music brings people together: we want to reach altogether new audiences through the campaign", Virkkunen explains.

A story of fascinating extremes
The Symphony of Extremes was composed by Apocalyptica frontman Eicca Toppinen. The song combines cellos with metal music. 

"It was extremely intriguing to compose a song based on the Finnish genotype. It took time to find the right approach, since the DNA sequences don't really sound like anything by themselves. The end result combines DNA in many forms, even as riffs. We wanted to create a distinctly Finnish feel to the song, which I hope the audience can pick up as well. This highly rewarding project is our tribute to Finland's centennial", Toppinen says and adds that Apocalyptica will also perform the symphony live at their shows.

The music video is designed to showcase Finland as a uniquely appealing destination. It is a combination of impressionistic cinema and diverse visuals of nature in Finland. The video inspires the mind and imagination, creates new associations and builds a coherent story that interlinks Finland's nature and national character.

A union of art and science
The symphony required DNA samples to be gathered from Finland's extremities: Nuorgam, Hattuvaara and the Hitis archipelago. The nitrogenous bases found in the samples have been converted into sounds with the help of Jonathan Middleton, guest professor at Tampere University, who has developed a specialised program for the task.

Also on hand were experts Paivi Onkamo, professor of genetics at Helsinki University, who specialises on DNA in and around ancient Finland, and Janna Saarela, head of research at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, who was in charge of gathering and analysing the DNA samples.

"The finished symphony is incredible, and we're extremely happy to be part of this union of science and art", Saarela rejoices.

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