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


Compositions





For one musician

CHANTER (pour Wolfgang von Schweinitz), No. 36 (2020)  • 
for cello  •  15’

BERCER, No. 29 (2019)  •   • 
for cello  •  11’

JUST (Chords, melodies), No. 26 (2019)  •   • 
for piano in Sabat II well-temperament  •  13’

(BE)NEATH, No. 16 (2016)  • 
for piano in 13-limit JI  •  10’

L’art de toucher..., No. 10 (2015)  • 
for piano in 12-EDO  •  6’

Clandestine, No. 1 (2012)
for piano in 12-EDO  •  7’

For two musicians

STILL, No. 25 (2018)  •   • 
for violin, viola  •  6’

AT LEAST, No. 12 (2016)  • 
for violin, piano in 12-EDO  •  10’

ATLAS, 2012 (Version B), No. 9.2 (2019)  • 
for viola, electric guitar  •  14’

ATLAS, 2012 (Version A), No. 9.1 (2015)  •   • 
for alto saxophone, electric guitar  •  14’

Intérieurs, No. 3 (2013)  • 
for violin, piano in 12-EDO  •  5’

For three musicians

TRIPLE RESPLENDENCE, No. 37 (2021)  •   • 
for alto flute, viola, alto trombone  •  7’

CHAMP FLEURI, No. 34 (2020)  • 
for violin, viola, cello  •  11’

WITHIN (98 Chords for Catherine Lamb), No. 31 (2020)  •   • 
for viola, suspended cymbal, obliggato voice  •  10’

BRANCH (Plainsound Trio), No. 20 (2018)  •   • 
for any 3 sustaining instruments  •  8’

GRAM, No. 22 (2018)  •   • 
for Baroque alto recorder, viola, keyboard / video installation  •  15’

number three, No. 4 (2014)  •   • 
for mandolin, viola, piano in any tuning  •  9’

For four musicians

FANCY, No. 39 (2021)
for string quartet  •  12’

WENN, No. 33 (2020)  • 
for mezzo-soprano, violin, clarinet in A, bass clarinet  •  8’

ANSTATT, No. 27 (2019)  • 
for clarinet, accordion, violin, cello  •  10’

DRIFT, No. 24 (2018)  •   • 
for any 4 sustaining instruments  •  3’

D’esquisses (Fragment), No. 5 (2014)  • 
for string quartet  •  2’

For ensemble

HARMONIUM (GLISTENING), No. 38 (2021)  •   • 
for open instrumentation (six lines)  •  18’

DUAE INTONATIONES POLYPHONIAE ITALAE, No. 30 (2019/20)  •   • 
for SATB, SSATTB  •  10’

ROUND, No. 21 (2018)  • 
for any odd number of musicians (sustaining instruments/voices)  •  30’

SHORT MASS, No. 19 (2017)
for SATB choir, pipe organ  •  8’

MOTTE, No. 17 (2016–2017)  •   • 
for flute (+piccolo), alto saxophone (+contrabass clarinet), bassoon (+contrabassoon), horn, bells, piano in 13-limit JI, violin, viola  •  40’

ALONG, AROUND, No. 13 (2014/2016)  • 
for 8 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, contrabass, percussion (objects)  •  10’

for Margaret Lingas, No. 8 (2015)  •   • 
for 10 voices, harmonium  •  6’

Apparitions, No. 6 (2014)
for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano in 12-EDO  •  10’

For orchestra

PER, No. 35 (2018–20)  •   • 
for orchestra (3.3.3.3/4.3.3.1/bd.timp.harp/strings)  •  12’

THAT, WHICH, No. 15 (2016)  • 
for 2.2.2.2/4.2.2.1/bells/strings  •  5’

ABOUT, No. 14 (2016)  •   • 
for orchestra (3.2.3.3/4.3.3.1/3.harp.organ/strings)  •  17’

number five, No. 11 (2015)
for orchestra (3.2.2.2/4.2.3.1/timpani.2/strings)  •  11’

Tombeau de souvenirs, No. 7 (2014)
for 2.2.2.2/2.2.0.0/timpani/strings  •  6’

Trois pièces d'après Kandinsky, No. 2 (2012)
for orchestra (2.2.2.2/4.3.3.1/timpani.piano/strings)  •  10’

Fixed media/electronic

PORT (Rondo for Marcus Pal), No. 32 (2020)  • 
for SuperCollider  •  27’

CONE, No. 28 (2019)
for samples, sinetones [mono]  •  12’

Installation/film

Schwer Abschied nehmen wenn ich Taschentuch sehe, No. 23 (2018) with Luisa Ruester  • 
for violin, keyboard, SuperCollider / 3 dancers, light and object installation  •  45’

servicemaster, No. 18 (2016–2017) with Kimberley Farris-Manning  • 
for film / installation  •  55’

Publications

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

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)

About

I was born in Fredericton, Canada in 1995. I find continual inspiration in practices from a wide range of fields, periods, and contexts, 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). I relocated to Berlin, Germany in 2017 to study at the Universität der Künste (MMus 2021) with Marc Sabat, whom I assisted teaching intonation theory. I am a member of the Harmonic Space Orchestra, a Berlin-based ensemble of 13 performer-composers specialising in just intonation music.

Under the influence of microtonal extended just intonation, my compositions since 2014 have engaged with the often mysterious interaction between perceptual independence and dependence: contrapuntal lines and harmonic fields (the spectrum between melodies and harmonies). In particular, I have been exploring the musical consequences of isolating various miniscule, yet remarkably expressive enharmonic connections inherent to extended just intonation. I enjoy composing the most for smaller settings consisting of two to four 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 Mareike Yin-Yee Lee (recording Gioseffo Zarlino in Wannsee, 2019)



Plainsound Music Edition

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Thomas Nicholson
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Wönnichstraße 3, 10317 Berlin, Germany

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© 2016– Thomas Nicholson