But then, what are these numbers?

Emily Howard / Ada Lovelace
Conductor Score


But then, what are these numbers? (2019) is a setting of a little-known letter penned by Ada Lovelace to her mother.

I am drawn to the contradictory nature of this letter, and indeed much of Lovelace’s life. Her complex relationship with her family, fame and fortune can be set against her own passions: an abundant love for music and her serious commitment to mathematics at the highest level.

Lovelace’s joyous interest in playing with new mathematical ideas is exemplified by an undated manuscript in the hands of Lovelace and Babbage in which they explore the rules underlying patterns in networks, rules which are the precursor of fundamental ideas in modern artificial intelligence. In a nod towards this, I have dissected, randomised and reordered the text of this letter using algorithms from the earliest days of computing that form the very foundation of modern artificial intelligence. Underpinned by music moving through similar variations and progressions, the musical iterations culminate in the letter’s correct order and, paraphrasing Lovelace’s own words to her mother, harmonious discipline in the final act.

Additional Information

Item Number: EP73473
Format: Sheet Music
Number of Pages: 56
Publication Date: 09/04/2020
Barcode: 9790577019697
ISMN: 9790577019697
Format: 303 x 232
Instrumentation: Mezzo Sop, Fl, B-Cl, Perc(1), Hp, Pf, Vln, Vc
Language: English

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