about us

musicDNA is the name for both an ontology and a number of user interface concepts which together allow the mapping of the musical universe - the essential structure of musical events and resources in terms of human activity - in order to be able to visualize and navigate through this powerfully rich semantic space thus turning music, musicians, and music-making into Web 3.0-ready social objects.

musicDNA is provided by musicDNA Ltd. The musicDNA project and ontology have a long history which has been partially documented online and aired repeatedly in the international research community, most prominently during the academic year 2008-2009 - more details below. The first public phase of the musicDNA project was announced by seed partner Pensive SA at the beginning of May 2009. The first version of the spin-off app musicGPS for the iPhone family was released in late 2009 and version 2.0 is currently available as a free download from the iTunes / iPhone App StoremusicGPS was rated No.2 in The Guardian's "top five of music 2.0" (24/06/2010), and as "Hot Stuff" in Stuff magazine (May 2010). The beta editor interface for the musicDNA index is now available to signed-up users. musicDNA is currently looking for people to work and partner with us.

musicDNA is implemented using the Topic Maps data model; a simple graphical notation for Topic Maps has been developed as part of the project: Topic Maps Martian Notation or TMMN. The current version of the musicDNA index is built on the TMCore engine from NetworkedPlanet.

Please note that our use of the trademark musicDNA is not to be confused with "MusicDNA" or the patent rights asserted under that name by Bach Technologies.


musicDNA Ltd

musicDNA Ltd is a UK-registered company (No. 07166041) and has a research and development team which has collaborated at various times at the BBC, at Unknown Public, and more recently at the Royal Academy of Music in London - on a prototype using their ontological research which was called the RAMline.  The RAMline was developed at the Academy with support from HEFCE and a Teaching and Research Award from the University of London's Centre for Distance Education, and has now been subsumed into the musicDNA project. The team members have presented their research at a number of international conferences - usually under the title Rewriting Musical History - in Oslo (Second International Topic Maps Users Conference 2008 plenary session), Naples (International Association of Music Libraries 2008), Amsterdam (XML Holland 2008 keynote speech), as well as at the Centre for Digital Music, QMUL (2009) and as part of Research in Distance Education, UL (2009). The musicDNA project stems from a long-standing research interest in the nature of musical, historical, and aesthetic time; the musicDNA concept was originally devised by Antony Pitts and was inspired by two particular projects for BBC Radio 3: Settling the Score: Of Sound Mind (1998/9) and The Unfinished Symphony (1999/2000).

Research & Development Team

Antony Pitts

Antony Pitts gained First-Class Honours in Music at New College, Oxford, and his career since has combined academic, industry, and professional musical experience at world-class levels: a decade-long association with the Royal Academy of Music culminating in an internationally-recognized research project as a Senior Lecturer; a rich and varied output as a BBC Senior Producer marked by ground-breaking practice and a catalogue of awards and nominations including the most prestigious international radio award, the Prix Italia, and the most valuable UK award, the Radio Academy BT Award “For the Innovative use of Interactive Technologies Combining the Networks of the Internet and Telephone In the Production of Live Music Radio”. Antony's creative record as a composer, researcher, and performer includes an acclaimed series of recordings of milestones of early Western music with TONUS PEREGRINUS for Naxos, and commissions for leading ensembles and festivals in the UK. While still at New College he founded TONUS PEREGRINUS and in 2004 won a Cannes Classical Award for his interpretation of Arvo Pärt’s Passio with the ensemble. Antony’s music has been premièred in Wigmore Hall and Westminster Cathedral in London, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Philharmonie Kammermusiksaal in Berlin. Various scores of his are published by Faber Music – notably the 40-part motet XL and The Naxos Book of Carols, while recordings of his music including two complete CDs are available on Harmonia Mundi, Hyperion, Naxos, Signum, and Unknown Public - the Hyperion disc of Seven Letters (CDA67507) was a Gramophone Editor's Choice. His mass setting for the Dutch Illustre Lieve Vrouwe Broederschap was the first to be commissioned by the foundation for almost 500 years, and part of his Requiem was sung at Alexander Litvinenko’s memorial. He is currently writing an opera telling the story of Western music.

John Drinkwater

John studied at Trinity College of Music, London International Film School and City University. Early on he worked as a composer, both of art music with works performed at the Wigmore Hall and the ICA, and for BBC Television (What's That Noise!, Dodgem). Later he was Musical Director for the Bootleg Beatles and a writer and broadcaster for BBC Radio 3 (The Sound of Musicke, Sounding the Century). More recently he worked as Associate Lecturer in Music Technology at the University of Hertfordshire, before being invited to take up the post of Lecturer in Technology for the Royal Academy of Music. He has a parallel career in IT, working as a software developer.

Hannah French

Yorkshire-born Hannah Riddell is an Academic Studies Lecturer and BMus Tutor at the Royal Academy of Music. Her current research is focused on her PhD, Notions of Tradition: J. S. Bach's Orchestral Suites in the 20th Century, for which she is examining materials specifically held in the Academy's archives. Outside Academy life, Hannah is active as a freelance baroque flautist with various orchestras in and around London; she performs with harpsichordist Robert Patterson in their duo The Boxwood Ensemble and with Paul French recently co-formed a new conductor-less choir and orchestra The Kingsway Ensemble. She is also currently participating in a research project with Antony Pitts and John Drinkwater, musicDNA, that may change the way we chart and document music history. Hannah's long standing fascination with both reception history and the music of J. S. Bach has been nurtured through her education at the University of Birmingham (BMus), Royal Academy of Music (MMus, LRAM), and her development of the undergraduate courses in 18th century performance practice at the Academy. Through her performances, lectures, PhD, and research events she continues to question: what constitutes good taste in interpreting 18th century repertoire?


Key partners and contributors

musicDNA Ltd gratefully acknowledges the help and support of the following:

Peter F Brown

Peter is Managing Director of Pensive and a member of its Board of Directors. He is also President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of OASIS, a global consortium developing standards for the information society. Peter has a strong background in information architecture and modelling and was a co-editor of the ground-breaking ”Reference Model for Service-Oriented Architecture”, now an OASIS standard. He believes that customers want high-quality solutions rather than dogmatic attachment to specific platforms and solutions. He maintains a healthy scepticism of computers and always championed the end user harnessing and maintaining control over increasingly complex computer systems.

Christoph Ludwig

Christoph is Research and Technology Manager of Pensive. Christoph holds a MSc. from the University of Oregon, Eugene, USA and a Diplom-Degree from Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, Germany and did his doctorate at Darmstadt University of Technology working about cryptography and computer algebra. He was with Worms University of Applied Sciences, Germany, as a post-doctoral researcher and developer in TextGrid, a web service based community grid for the humanities funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, before he joined Pensive.

Jonas Van Gestel

Jonas graduated as a graphic designer in 1998 at VISO - Ghent - Belgium. With the web becoming more and more graphically challenging those days, he decided to specialize in that particular domain, becoming one of those early webdesigners in 1999. Over the following years, the web evolved from a static to an interactive and animated medium, an evolution which again triggered his interest, so he specialized further in online animation in general and Flash design in particular. Previous employers as Headtrick Media Group and Duval Guillaume E gave him the opportunities to perfect these skills. Jonas has been working as an independent graphics / motion graphics and web designer since 2002 with The Blackbox.org BVBA, his own company. He became a Macromedia Certified Flash Designer in 2003. He has been doing a lot of freelance work as a webdesigner, motion graphics designer, online video consultant and video producer. At present (2009), The Blackbox.org is an advanced graphics and communications studio that delivers a broad range of visual communications solutions.

John Borras

John is currently Operations Manager of Pensive and Chairman of the Board of Directors. He has spent the majority of his career working on the development of ICT systems, policies, strategies and procedures for central and local government in the United Kingdom. He took early retirement from the Civil Service in 2006 after 38 years service and has since been a self-employed consultant. He is a past Director of OASIS and is the current chair of the OASIS eGov Member Section and the OASIS Technical Committee on e-voting standards.