Music by Numbers article featured in BBC Music Magazine

Music by Numbers article featured in BBC Music Magazine

The January 2019 issue of BBC Music Magazine carries an article by David De Roure, Professor of e-Research, on Ada Lovelace and music. The piece, entitled "Music by Numbers", tells the story of Ada Lovelace's passion for music and her insights into computational creativity. Professor De Roure explains how the article came about:

"Back in 2015 I was involved in a symposium to mark 200 years since Lovelace's birth, organised in the Maths Institute by Professor Ursula Martin. It was my privilege to help present Ada Lovelace's interests in music, and in particular computers and music. I worked with a fantastic team, including Ursula Martin, composer Emily Howard, and Pip Willcox who was the link between the e-Research Centre and the Bodleian Libraries.

"The symposium was very successful and that could have been the end of it, but three years later this work has gone from strength to strength - it's led to multiple talks, academic papers and musical performances, which have been covered in past news items. Last year I was approached by the editor of BBC Music Magazine to write a piece about Ada Lovelace and music. I saw this as a great opportunity to tell the story to a larger readership (200,000) and to point out that Lovelace, often celebrated for publishing the first program for computers as we know them today, should also be celebrated for her foundational interdisciplinary insights. This is really timely, with machines and creativity very much on the agenda again today.

"Rightly, Lovelace has become an icon for women in technology: Ada Lovelace Day, held annually on the second Tuesday of October, is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. But accounts often neglect her passion for the arts, and her letters show that she put music on a par with mathematics. In my view, her most distinctive personal insight was that computers could be used for things other than calculating numbers. So I see her much more as an icon for interdisciplinarity - STEAM rather than STEM."

The article appears on page 42 of the January 2019 issue of BBC Music Magazine, and is discussed in the 21 December 2018 BBC Music Podcast (12mins in).