Photo by Christina Marx (chords, melodies 2019)


Composition Catalogue







All Instruments
Violin
Viola
Cello
Keyboard
Guitar
Harp
Percussion
Flute
Clarinet
Saxophone
Bassoon
Horn
Accordion
Voice
Electronics
Open

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 (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 noise, 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. 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 relocated to Berlin, Germany 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 specialising in just intonation music.

Since 2014, my compositions have focussed on examining 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 projects. 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 including the 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)





www.plainsound.org

Download my CV and work list



Thomas Nicholson
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Zähringerstraße 29, 10707 Berlin, Germany

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