Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

Association’s accolade for code cracker McLean

August 3rd, 2015

A PIONEERING digital musician from the School of Music is following in the footsteps of physicist Brian Cox by being chosen to give a special talk at the annual British Science Festival, held this year in Yorkshire.

Dr Alex McLean (left) has been selected to give the inaugural British Science Association Daphne Oram Award Lecture at the British Science Festival in Bradford from 7-10 September 2015.

The Association chose just six other top UK-based researchers for their cutting edge research. Each will give a talk on their latest research. Dr McLean is the only award lecturer from the North of England.

Alongside Professor Cox, other notable previous winners include space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock and psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman.

Dr McLean’s talk, ‘Live Coding: Creating Languages for Making Music’, will look at how algorithms are changing the way we experience the world, as well as their huge potential for new collaborative ways to make music.

Demonstrating a completely different side to computer programming, he will show how live coding brings the worlds of performance and computer programming together, with live demos and videos of ‘algoraves’. The festival will also include an evening event with Dr McLean and friends live coding music and visuals.

Research Fellow Dr McLean, who is deputy director of ICSRiM, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Scientific Research in Music at Leeds, said: ‘I’m honoured to have won the opportunity to give the first Daphne Oram Award Lecture in Bradford in September.

‘Live coding turns computer programmers into performing artists. It has great potential, and can allow developers to collaborate in new ways, to better understand computational models by making fundamental changes to them on-the-fly.

‘It also allows us to find new ways to learn and teach computer programming. In the past 15 years the live coding community has grown fast, attracting interest from many people in artistic, creative, scientific, educational, business and mixed contexts. It is transforming the way we think about computer science.’

His digital innovation award, honours Daphne Oram, another music technology trailblazer who was also founder of the BBC’s famed Radiophonic Workshop.

He comments: ‘Daphne Oram’s groundbreaking work building machines which turned symbols into sound is a huge inspiration, and it is a great honour that this award carries her name.’

Dr McLean has just organised, with partners from the universities of Sussex and Durham, the first international conference on live coding, which attracted delegates from more than 20 countries to Leeds in July for a series of talks and performances.

Ivvet Modinou, Head of Engagement at the BSA, said: ‘The standard of the nominations we received this year was incredibly high. It is extremely encouraging to see and hear about so much fantastic science happening across the UK, and I’m thrilled that we will be offering these early-career researchers an opportunity to tell the British Science Festival audience about their work this September.’

 

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