Thomas Nicholson
Photo by Christina Marx (chords, melodies 2019)




A Compact Enharmonically Viable Subset of Harmonic Space (2020) with Marc Sabat
The Stern-Brocot Tree and Some Thoughts About Lattices and Spirals
Published in Živá hudba 2020/11 (printing mid 2021)

The Helmholtz-Ellis JI Pitch Notation (2020) with Marc Sabat  • 
revised symbols for primes up to 47; legend and harmonic/subharmonic series

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

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  • 

Research, resources and software

Surprising Connections in Extended Just Intonation  • 
Investigations and reflections on tonal change
(Masters Thesis, Universität der Künste Berlin, 2021)

Harmonic Series Spiral Synth  • 
in-broswer synthesiser and interactive visualisation of the harmonic series in the form of a logarithmic spiral
based on Erv Wilson's 1965 publication and Catherine Lamb's related creative/pedagogical practice

String instrument physical model  • 
SuperCollider synthesiser – useful for generating a “more realistic” string timbre (slight inharmonicitiy, bow attack, bow position, etc.)
example mockup with James Tenney's KOAN for string quartet  • 

The 'helmholtz-ellis-ji-notation' package  • 
LaTeX package for typesetting HEJI accidentals in text documents, archived on CTAN (Version 1 2020-05-19)

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


I was born in Fredericton, Canada in 1995. As an artist, I find myself guided by many practices from a wide range of fields, periods, and situations, including mathematics, graphic design, Renaissance artwork, computational logic, and conversation. I studied composition with Christopher Butterfield and piano with Arthur Rowe at the University of Victoria (BMus 2017). In 2017, I relocated to Berlin, Germany to study at the Universität der Künste (MMus 2021) 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 specialising in just intonation music.

Since 2014, my compositions have examined the entrancing interactions between contrapuntal lines and harmonic fields (melodies and chords) under the influence of microtonal extended just intonation. In particular, I have been exploring the musical consequences of isolating various mimniscule, yet remarkably expressive enharmonic connections inherent to extended just intonation. I compose primarily for smaller settings of musicians and occasionally collaborate on film and installation projects. I am actively researching as well as developing tools and methods for navigating the practical challenges of realising microtonal music on acoustic instruments — especially, strings.

Thomas Nicholson
Photo by Rafal Rawicki (2018)

Plainsound Music Edition

Download my CV and work list

Thomas Nicholson
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Zähringerstraße 29, 10707 Berlin, Germany

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