Charles Nichols

Charles Nichols

Associate Professor - Composition, Creative Technologies

Composer, violinist, and computer music researcher, Charles Nichols is an Assistant Professor of Composition and Creative Technologies and a Faculty Affiliate at the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT).

As a composer, he explores the expressive potential of instrumental ensembles, computer music systems, and combinations of the two, for the concert stage, and collaborations with dance, video, and installation art.

In the band Modality he performs processed electric violin, bass guitar, and computer.

His research includes motion capture for musical performance, data sonification, telematic performance, and haptic musical instrument design.

His recent premieres include Il Prete Rosso, for amplified violin, motion sensor, and computer, that controls audio effects with a wireless motion sensor on the bow hand of the violinist, Sound of Rivers: Stone Drum, a multimedia collaboration, with sonified data, electric violin, and computer music, accompanying narrated poetry, dance, animation, and processed video, based on scientific research into the sound of rivers, and Nicolo, Jimi, and John, a three movement concerto, for amplified viola, orchestra, and computer, inspired by the virtuosity of Paganini, Hendrix, and Coltrane.

Contact Me

(540) 231-8502
242-N Squires (0138)
290 College Avenue
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Areas of Expertise

  • Composition, Creative Technologies
  • Production/Research Areas: Acoustic and Electroacoustic Composition and Performance, Computer Music Research
  • Teaching Areas: Composition, Computer Music & Multimedia

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Stanford University
  • M.M., Yale University School of Music
  • B.M., Eastman School of Music

What is the most satisfying or rewarding moment of your artistic process?

As a composer, the most satisfying moment of my artistic process is when the music starts to assert itself, leading the organization of the piece.

What gives you the most satisfaction as a teacher?

That moment during a lecture, when a student lights up with understanding, gives me the most satisfaction as a teacher.

What is the most important quality for any student in the performing arts to cultivate?

Persistence or perseverance is the most important quality for any artist, especially for students and young artists.

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Worked as a Research Associate at the Center for Studies in Music Technology (CSMT) and as a Research Assistant at Haskins Laboratories at Yale University 
  • Served as the Interim and Associate Technical Director of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University
  • Conducted research as a visiting scholar at the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queen's University, Belfast
  • Taught computer music workshops at the Banff Centre, Charlotte New Music Festival, and the University of Rome
  • Composed as a resident at the Ucross and Brush Creek artist retreats

Honors & Awards

  • Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Science Foundation, and New Music USA
  • Commissioned by the Third Angle Ensemble, Headwaters Dance Company, Montana Transport Company, Prop Foundation, Montana Institute on Ecosystems, Montana State Music Teachers Association, Myrna Loy Center for the Performing and Media Arts, Missoula Art Museum, Association of American Medical Colleges, Institute of Medicine and Humanities, Montana Public Radio, Virginia Tech, Drake University, University of Oregon, University of Montana, and Temple University
  • Performed by the Beo String Quartet, Klang String Quartet, FLUX Quartet, Third Angle Ensemble, Namaste Ensemble, Sapphire Trio, Cascade String Quartet, and Missoula Symphony Orchestra

Sample Work

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