Instrumental Tutor, Music

Jim Aitchison is a composer and artist, working both in the realm of responding to visual artworks and in that of making visual responses to music. His most recent work focuses upon mind and state. Jim teaches composition, theory and piano on the BA(Hons) Music course. 

As a composer, he has worked in response to a range of internationally important visual artists including Gerhard Richter, Antony Gormley, Doris Salcedo, Anthony Caro, Peter Randall-Page, Mark Rothko, Anish Kapoor, Richard Deacon, Terry Frost, Bridget Riley and John Hoyland, with various galleries such as Tate Modern, Tate St Ives, the RA, The Henry Moore Institute, and The New Art Centre at Roche Court. From 2008 - 2014 this work occurred in the context of two research fellowships at the Royal Academy of Music. In 2008/9, Tate Modern commissioned the composer to respond in music to their large scale Rothko show, and in 2014 he created a large scale response to art by Gerhard Richter with distanced and distributed music performed simultaneously at a variety of geographical locations across the UK. In 2015 he was Composer-Researcher for the ‘Online Orchestra’ project at Falmouth University funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and in 2017 The New Art Centre at Roche Court Sculpture Park supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund commissioned ‘Sea of Music’ in response to Sir Anthony Caro’s ‘Sea Music’ sculpture in Poole Harbour in Dorset, with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Most recently, in 2020, The Social Distancing Festivalbased in Toronto showed the composer’s first foray into film with music: Contrapunctusgrew out of a 4-year project on the effects of disconnection and isolation upon the mind and the making of art. Michael Morris, Co-Director of Artangel described Contrapunctusthus: “This absorbing and prescient piece, in which form and content are beautifully combined, speaks powerfully to the constant human struggle for integration.”  

His music has been released on the NMC label, and his music after Mark Rothko is available for visitors to experience in the Rothko Room at Tate Modern as part of the gallery multimedia tour, and on the TATE Channel.

External Links

Contact details



Year Qualification Awarding body
1995 PGCE Music University of Central England in Birmingham
1994 MA Composition Nottingham University
1991 BA Hons Music Nottingham University

Honors and awards

Year Description
2011 Honorary research fellow, Royal Academy of Music
2007 Henry Moore fellowship at the Royal Academy of Music and The History of Art, Film and Visual Media Department of Birkbeck College, University of London
1994 Nottingham University: Halward Compostion Prize - First prize

Membership of external committees

Member of the advisory panel, the Composers Special Interests Group, for the Incorporated Society of Musicians

Research Interests

Research interests and expertise

Investigation of the effects of mental state upon creativity and vice versa: selection, matter, placement, form, process, expressive effect. 

Investigation of potential Intersections between visual artworks and artists' practice and possible compositional applications derived from these, and ways in which compositional processes and outcomes may (or may not) be affected by engagement with aspects of visual artworks and artists' practice.

Research centre and group affiliations


Research Outputs

Publications and research outputs

  • Rofe, Michael, Prior, David, Reuben, Federico, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Falmouth University

    (2015), The Online Orchestra: Connecting Remote Communities through Music, In: Online Orchestra, 12th July 2015, Truro Cathedral


Areas of teaching

  • Music composition

Courses taught

  • BA(Hons) Music