Nina Whiteman (Composer)

Research output: Non-textual formComposition


For piano, electronics and multimedia.

Programme note:
earthed adj.
'Having an electrical connection with the ground'
'Dwelling or buried underground'
'Connected to reality; grounded.' (

When Adam Swayne asked me to write a piano piece in response to the idea of ‘memorial’, I was immediately drawn to environmental concerns: the global climate crisis, a collection of thoughts around soil health, and the gradual demise of an avenue of mature lime trees in my local park owing to waterlogging.

The resulting composition is a memorial to one of these fallen lime trees. I asked: how could multimedia materials interconnect and communicate in real-time like a mycelial network in an act of commemoration?

The tree itself provides most of the work’s materials: soil from its root ball becomes a variable resistor in an electronic circuit, and its bark, roots, mosses and lichen provide visual textures in the video. The live performers enact the rituals of their network in response to light signals emanating from the video. Touch-activated tones create a sonorous homage to a lost tree.

Emerging from Nina’s BELOW GROUND project, the piece develops ideas and processes accrued through interactions with subterranean specialists and artists across disciplines. In particular, the use of soil as a touch-responsive sound source was first developed by David Birchall for our Sonic Gardening workshops in partnership with MUD (Manchester Urban Diggers). I am grateful to David for his expertise helping me develop the DIY electronics for the piece, and permission to borrow his concept.

The idea for Earthed also came from a wider investigation into the way communities bring about musical commemoration in response to catastrophes, shown in Adam’s CD 9/11:20.

Earthed was first performed on 22 February 2024 by Adam Swayne (piano) and Nina Whiteman (electronics) as part of The University of Manchester Walter Carroll Lunchtime Concerts. It was commissioned by Adam Swayne, and is dedicated to him.
Original languageEnglish
Size11 minutes
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • multimedia
  • piano and multimedia
  • piano and technology

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