Photo by Christina Marx (chords, melodies 2019)

Composition Catalogue

All Instruments

Research, Resources & Publications

Surprising Connections in Extended Just Intonation
An analysis of Harry Partch’s Dark Brother as well as some of my own compositions and techniques
(Masters Thesis, Universität der Künste Berlin, 2019–20)

A Compact Enharmonically Viable Subset of Harmonic Space (2020) with Marc Sabat
The Stern-Brocot Tree and Some Thoughts About Lattices and Spirals
Živá hudba 2020/11 (publication pending)

Relations of tone as an analogy for relations of colour (2020)  • 

The 'helmholtz-ellis-ji-notation' package  • 
LaTeX package for typesetting in-line HEJI accidentals, archived on CTAN (Version 2.5 2020-05-19)

Plainsound Harmonic Space Calculator | basic  • 
in-browser tool for analysis, composition, and performance preparation of music composed in microtonal just intonation
(Version 2.5 2020-05-11 • in collaboration with Marc Sabat)

Farey sequences map playable nodes on a string (2019) with Marc Sabat  • 
mathematical model of harmonic nodes; musical applications
TEMPO 74 (291 January 2020)

Nodal positions along a string for harmonics 1° through 19° (2019)  • 
121 positions to play any harmonic < 19° notated along the contrabass’ D string (with distances in mm)

Irreducible divisions of a string (2019)  • 
nodal positions for partials 1° through 36° as mediants between nodes of lower harmonics (Farey tree) with corresponding stopped pitches defining a 31-limit harmonic space

Microtonal playback in Dorico (2018)  • 
software review with technical examples of Dorico 2’s microtonal just intonation playback capabilities

Fundamental Principles of Just Intonation and Microtonal Composition (2018) with Marc Sabat  • 


I was born in Fredericton, Canada in 1995. In addition to music and interdisciplinary artistic experiments, I find myself guided by many practices from a wide range of fields and periods — these include mathematics, typography, graphic design, Renaissance artwork, and web development. I studied composition with Christopher Butterfield and piano with Arthur Rowe at the University of Victoria (Canada). In 2017, I moved to Berlin to study at the Universität der Künste with Marc Sabat, whom I assisted in teaching intonation theory. I am a member of the Harmonic Space Orchestra, a Berlin-based ensemble of performer-composers focusing on music in just intonation.

My compositions since 2014 have examined the interaction between counterpoint (melodies), harmony (chords), and the unique gradations of spectral fusion evoked through microtonal just intonation (auditory perception). I compose primarily for smaller settings of musicians and occasionally collaborate on film and installation. I am actively researching as well as developing tools and methods for navigating the practical challenges of realising microtonal music on acoustic instruments — strings, in particular. My awards and honours include prizes from the SOCAN Foundation for my compositions MOTTE and ABOUT (2017) as well as SOCAN’s John Weinzweig Grand Prize (2017), the DAAD Prize from the Universität der Künste Berlin (2018), and a feature in CBC Music’s 30 hot Canadian classical musicians under 30 (2018).

Photo by Rafal Rawicki (2018)

Download my CV and work list

Thomas Nicholson
thomas   thomasnicholson   ca
(add @ and . in their usual places)
Zähringerstraße 29, 10707 Berlin, Germany

All files are made available under a Creative Commons license for artistic and educational purposes (Attribution – ShareAlike). Commercial use without explicit permission is not permitted.


1. Content

The author reserves the right not to be responsible for the topicality, correctness, completeness or quality of the information provided. Liability claims regarding damage caused by the use of any information provided, including any kind of information that is incomplete or incorrect, will therefore be rejected. All offers are not-binding and without obligation. Parts of the pages or the complete publication including all offers and information may be extended, changed or partly or completely deleted by the author without separate announcement.

2. Referrals and links

The author reserves the right not to be responsible for the topicality, correctness, completeness of any pages linked to. The author is not responsible for any content linked or referred to from this page – unless they have full knowledge of illegal contents and would be able to prevent the visitors of their site from viewing those pages. If any damage occurs by the use of information presented there, only the author of the respective page(s) might be liable, not the one who has linked to these pages. Furthermore the author is not liable for any postings or messages published by users of discussion forums provided on their page.

3. Copyright

The author intended not to use any copyrighted material for the publication or, if not possible, to indicate the copyright of the respective object. The copyright for any material created by the author is reserved unless otherwise indicated.

4. Privacy policy

The use of published postal addresses, telephone or fax numbers and email addresses for marketing purposes is prohibited.

5. Legal validity of this disclaimer

This disclaimer is to be regarded as part of the internet publication from which you were referred. If sections or individual terms of this statement are not legal or correct, the content or validity of the other parts remains uninfluenced by this fact.

cc 2016–2020 Thomas Nicholson