Difference Engine was founded at Dartington, UK in 2005 by Christopher Pressler, a violinist, researcher and librarian and Bob Gilmore, a keyboard player and expert in contemporary western music.We are a contemporary music ensemble now based at the University of Nottingham and Brunel University.
The base instrumentation is violin and piano, though we have frequently used multiple instruments as a duo and have also performed as an expanded ensemble, and have given almost twenty performances to date in a variety of groupings.
Difference Engine concerts have always been conceived as surprises. We often mix music of different genres and periods. Our repertoire is varied and has featured performances of music by Sibelius, Mozart, de la Guerre, Martinu, Ives, Poulenc, Bridge, Hovhaness, Purcell, Bartok, Part, Nyman, Cage, Bryars, Glass, Stockhausen, Fink, Gorecki, Hughes and Macmillan.
The name Difference Engine is taken from the early computing device envisioned by Charles Babbage. The Difference Engine calculated successive terms of the sequence n(2) + n + 41. The terms of this sequence are 41, 43, 47, 53, 61, … while the differences of the terms are 2, 4, 6, 8, … and the second differences are 2,2,2, … The Difference Engine is given the initial data 2, 0, 41; it constructs the next row 2, (0 + 2), [41 + (0 + 2)], that is 2,2,43; then the row 2, (2 + 2), [43 + (2 + 2)], that is 2, 4, 47; then 2, 6, 53; then 2, 8, 61.
Babbage's extremely creative mind spread over disparate fields: he compiled dictionaries for word-puzzlers, wrote the choreography of the ballet 'Alethes and Iris' for the Italian Opera House, constructed a multipurpose surgical pump and a small cableway for mail, designed a travelling hotel room, studied the transmission of light signals and submarine navigation in the diving bell, published papers on economy and finance, mechanical machinery and philosophy. He advised governmental institutions on the prevention of money forgery, on the costs of the postal service and on the safety of railways.
Charles Babbage came from a Totnes family. Christopher Pressler is his great-great-great-grandson.