Forbidden (Riot Ensemble commission)

I was delighted to be commissioned by Riot Ensemble during 2020-21 to create a solo work for their Zeitgeist series, funded by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation.

During 2020-21, touching our faces has become a forbidden act that endangers our health. However, research tells us that spontaneous facial self touch is a comforting mechanism, and that we can touch our own faces up to 50 times an hour without necessarily being aware that we are doing so (e.g. see Mueller et al 2019). 

Forbidden presents simultaneously as an elegy to facial touch and a dangerous act of rebellion. 

The work extends my exploration of video as score and notation. Here, the vocalist is informed of their pitches from the part of the face that is touched, and the camera focus guides vocal timbre.

I’m so grateful to soprano Sarah Dacey for her exquisite performance!

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Noises with Nina

During the Covid-19 lockdown, I’ve started a series of homemade experimental music videos. The series is a quirky antidote to a rather grave situation that has particularly affected the arts and live music-making. It was initially inspired in part by Björk’s eccentric tour of her television (you can view that here).
It’s been a lot of fun to make, and a welcome distraction from isolation. You can view the series on Facebook and Twitter @ninawhiteman, and on YouTube (click here for the link).

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Collaboration with Lauren Redhead and Alistair Zaldua

I’ve been working for some time now on a piece for organ and electronics. This develops my interest in creating maze-like notational environments for performers to navigate. In this work, provisionally titled Escape! the score is in the form of a video also visible to the audience. It comprises a series of rooms that performers (and audience) navigate in turn under differing time pressures. The organ and electronics performers have comparable actions in response to graphic symbols (octave changes, timbre changes, vibrato) and their interaction varies from one leading the other to races through rooms to slow explorations in tandem.

Here’s a video of us talking at the beginning of the project:

And here’s an example of one of the rooms performers explore in the piece:

The collaboration has been funded by Goldsmiths, University of London, and the work will tour a range of festivals from Spring 2020.

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‘Thread’ now available on HCR records

In 2017 Kathryn Williams asked me to write her a flute piece to be played in one breath for her project ‘Coming Up for Air’. My response was Thread, where the player’s breathing is controlled by an in-ear sound score, whilst their fingers simultaneously navigate maze-like notation. Kathryn has recently recorded over 40 pieces composed to this brief, and they’ve been released on the HCR label. You can listen to Thread and all of the other composers’ fantastic creations by buying the CD ( or on Spotify here.

Read more about Kathryn’s project here:

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I’ve had a fabulous time working with the Vonnegut Collective on overcast. This was a commission from Kinetic (funded by Arts Council England) to create music to be experienced in a small space. You can read about my ideas in this interview:

I really enjoyed writing a piece that was designed to be memorised so that performers could move, play in the dark, and have creative involvement in how the sounds unfold. This is something I’d very much like to explore again, along with use of lighting and strange string preparations! Thanks so much to everyone involved!

(Vonnegut Collective in rehearsal at Takk in Hatch, Manchester)

I’m now working on a piece for organ and electronics for Lauren Redhead and Alistair Zaldua, and this research is funded by Goldsmiths, University of London. The collaboration involves a number of exploratory sessions, which we have been filming to document the process. More on this to follow, along with performance dates!

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TOMB premiere

TOMB is a new piece for amplified alto flute, video and electronics commissioned by Gavin Osborn (with funds from the RVW Trust).

The first performance is on Thursday 13 December at 1.10pm at the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama, The University of Manchester. It’s a free event open to everyone, and also features music by Elizabeth Ditmanson, Kelly Jayne Jones, Rachel Graff and Sarah Keirle. Info here.





TOMB is an underground adventure, an exploration of an unknown location, an attempt to navigate, a discovery of lost things, a place to become lost…

Inspired in part by the fictional (?) house of changing dimensions in Danielewski’s novel House of Leaves (2000), TOMB places the performer in a disconcerting environment they may never leave.

An abandoned copper mine in Alderley Edge – Wood Mine – was the location for the film. A map of the mine informed the modular structure of TOMB: the flute player must navigate the interconnected regions of the mine, following a confusing array of signposts. These regions correspond to the areas of the mine seen in the video, and are named as follows in the score:


Areas may be explored in any order, and the work is designed to be of flexible duration.

TOMB is part of a collection of works exploring sonic realisations of ideas deriving from mazes and labyrinths (design, literature, psychology). The score employs idiosyncratic maze-like notation, and features a defaced ‘artefact’ page from my piece House of Mazes (2017).

TOMB was commissioned by Gavin Osborn with support from the RVW Trust and Royal Holloway University of London.

My thanks go to Stuart Spray for the camerawork and filming equipment, James Walker for editing the film, Derbyshire Caving Club and Nigel Dibben for our fascinating tour of the mine and access to film there, and Gavin Osborn for his generous collaboration.


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You can read and see what I was up to in St Ives in June here

Responding to our environment, we created a constantly evolving installation (sound, visual art) at the Porthmuir Studios in St Ives. There were daily performances, too, where all collaborators interacted with the installation with movement and sound. These performances were playful and improvisatory and I found it a really liberating experience to work in this way over the course of a week. I was also able to develop some of my performance work involving entangled twine, physical movement, and vocal responses to physical constraint. A few images and videos below:

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time-trace-place (installation and performance project in St. Ives this summer)

I’m involved in a really exciting project in St. Ives this summer. It’s a collaborative venture led by Gavin Osborn, and we’ll be making site-specific installation and performance work daily in artist studios in the town.

There’s more information here:

The project is funded by Arts Council England.

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‘Thread’ – performed by Kathryn Williams (flute)

I’m happy to be sharing this wonderful performance of my flute piece ‘Thread’ to be played IN ONE BREATH. This was commissioned and performed by Kathryn Williams in aid of Help Musicians.

I’ll borrow Kathryn’s excellent description: ‘”Thread” by Nina Whiteman is a labyrinth to navigate in a single breath, with an in-ear click track dictating the moments to inhale and exhale. Beginning with inhalation sounds with the head joint completely turned in, the exhale sounds span sharp bursts of air, flutter tongue, lip pizzicato, and tongue pizzicato as the head joint is gradually turned back out.’

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House of Mazes film

I’m delighted to share this film of my recent piece House of Mazes. It was a really interesting process to consider how camerawork and lighting could interact to add another dimension to the performance of this piece. I’m really pleased with the results, which I think communicate to the audience the feeling of disorientation and lostness experienced by performers as they navigate the unusual notation. You can watch the film on youtube and look at a section of the vocal part below. Many thanks to Cloud Tree video and to Arts Council England and RNCM Research as well as to my colleagues in Trio Atem!


House of Mazes image 1

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