About me

I was born in Fredericton, Canada in 1995. I find myself guided by many practices from various periods and fields including mathematics, typography, graphic design, Renaissance painting and music, as well as more recent interdisciplinary experiments in which diverse elements intersect. 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. My compositions since 2014 have examined and engaged with the interaction between counterpoint and the unique gradations of spectral fusion evoked through microtonal just intonation. I compose primarily for smaller settings of musicians and am actively researching and developing tools and methods for managing 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).

I am a member of the Plainsound Music Edition collective.


Photo by Rafal Rawicki (2018)

Catalogue of my compositions

  • All
  • Solos
  • Duos
  • Ensemble
  • Orchestra
  • Fixed Media
  • Installation/Dance/Film


SUSPENDS (2020)
sop sax, trb, vc, acc — 10’
FLUX (44 Chords for Harry Partch) (2020)
6 instr + electronic tones — 10’
ATLAS, 2012 : version b (2019)
vla, e gtr — 14’
audio
BERCER (2019)
vc — 11’
audio
CONE (2019)
smpl + sines [mono] — 12’
ANSTATT (2019)
cl, acc, vln, vc — 10’
score
JUST (chords, melodies) (2019)
pf (Sabat II well-temperament) — 13’
score | audio
STILL (2018)
vln, vla — 6’
score | audio
DRIFT (2018)
4 instr — (3’+)
score | audio
PER (2018–)
3.3.3.3/4.3.3.1/1.hp/str — 15’
Schwer Abschied nehmen (2018)
with Luise Rüster
vln, kybd, dnc, light — 45’
video (excerpts)
GRAM (2018)
alto rec, vla, kybd, vid — 15’
audio
ROUND (2018)
any odd number of musicians — 30’
score
BRANCH (Plainsound Trio) (2018)
3 instr — 8’
score | audio
MASS (2017)
SATB, org — 8’
servicemaster (2016/2017)
with Kimberley Farris-Manning
film, obj — 55’
score | video
MOTTE (2017)
fl (pic), alto sax (cbcl), bsn (cbsn), hn, bells, pf (13-limit JI), vln, vla — 40’
score | audio
(BE)NEATH (2016)
pf (13-limit JI) — 10’
audio
THAT, WHICH (2016)
2.2.2.2/4.2.2.1/bells/str — 5’
score
ABOUT (2016)
3.2.3.3/4.3.3.1/3.hp.org/str — 17’
score | audio
ALONG, AROUND (2014/2016)
8.vln/2.vla/2.vc/cb — 10’
score
AT LEAST (2016)
vln, pf (12-ET) — 10’
score
number five (2015)
3.2.2.2/4.2.3.1/timp.2/str — 11’
L’art de toucher… (2015)
pf (12-ET) — 6’
audio
ATLAS, 2012 : version a (2015)
alto sax, e gtr — 14’
score | audio
for Margaret Lingas (2015)
10 v, harm — 6’
score | audio
Tombeau de souvenirs (2014)
2.2.2.2/2.2.0.0/timp/str — 6’
Litanies (2014)
str 4 — 8’
Apparitions (2014)
fl, cl, vln, vc, pf (12-ET) — 10’
D’esquisses [fragment] (2014)
str 4 — 2’
score
number three (2014)
mand, vla, pf (any tuning) — (9’)
score | audio
Intérieurs (2013)
vln, pf (12-ET) — 5’
score
Trois pièces d’après Kandinsky (2012)
2.2.2.2/4.3.3.1/timp.pf/str — 10’
Clandestine (2012)
pf (12-ET) — 7’

Some of my writing & research

Helmholtz-Ellis 31-Limit Harmonic Space Calculatorlink
browser-based software for just intonation composition and research with Johnston Notation to HE Converter; auto-normalised enharmonic pitch-class comparison (with Marc Sabat)
(version 2.1 - 28.11.2018)

The Intoning Voice: Two microtonal case studies in compositions of Harry Partch and Catherine Lamb (Masters Thesis, UdK Berlin, 2019–)
analyses of Dark Brother and parallaxis forma; discussion of extended just intonation practices (Masters thesis, in progress)

A Catalogue of 88 Epimoric Enharmonic Proximities in 23-Limit Harmonic Space within the Quarter-Comma (whole numbers < 9999) (2020) — file

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

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

Irreducible divisions of a string (2019) — file
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

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

How to contact me


You may send me an email at
thomas [at] thomasnicholson [dot] ca
Download my CV and work list


cc 2016–2020 Thomas Nicholson



Photo by Christina Marx (2019)





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