Matthew Nicholl

Dean, Professional Writing and Music Technology

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Career Highlights
  • Composer of film scores for National Geographic Society, PBS, NASA, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield
  • Composer/arranger of annual national promotional campaigns for PBS, 1986–1990
  • Composer of scores for presidential, senate, congressional, and mayoral political campaigns, including candidates Bob Dole, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Marion Barry, and many others
  • Composer/arranger of regional and national ad campaigns for Nissan, Subway Sub Shops, Radio Shack, Tandy Corporation, and many others
  • Composer/arranger of network ID/Promo packages for KHOU-TV/Radio (Houston), KXAS-TV/Radio (Dallas), and WNUV (Baltimore)
  • Compositions used in the TV shows The Game and One Life to Live
  • Recent publications include Essential Grooves for Writing, Performing, and Producing Contemporary Music (Sher Music, 2010, with Dan Moretti and Oscar Stagnaro); Music Notation: Preparing Scores and Parts (Berklee Press, 2007, with Richard Grudzinski); and Bossa Nova Standard Songs (Rittor Music, 2007)
  • Recordings include Windborne, featuring the Dallas Brass; From Here to There (with Eliot Wadopian); Silent Picture (with Michael Farquharson); and Della by Moonlight (with Michael Farquharson)
  • Arranger and conductor for live shows featuring Rosa Passos, Eva Ayllón, Issac Delgado, Luis Enrique, Larry Harlow, Jorge Drexler, Alejandro Sanz, Ivan Lins, Guinga, and Susanna Baca
In Their Own Words

"I encourage students to go beyond writing merely acceptable music. All the great writers I ever worked with were obsessed with writing the best possible music, and were never satisfied with just fulfilling the basic requirements. When a writer strives to write truly great, original music, their own voice emerges from the struggle."

"I understand what skills a writer needs to survive, and those are what I try to teach. To make a living and have a high professional quality of life, one needs to be able to write good music quickly. In the Contemporary Writing and Production Department, we train students to deal with any situation they might encounter as professional writers. The curriculum is not focused on any particular style. Instead, we deal with typical situations in which writers may find themselves in the music industry, be it music for radio, TV, electronic games, or multimedia; arranging and production for live performance and recording; writing original music; or producing other artists."

"When you write for a living, you must be very sensitive to what your clients are asking for. Most clients are not musicians and don't have a conventional musical vocabulary. Professional writers have to listen to what the client is saying and understand it musically, but be able to converse on the client's terms. An important part of what writers do is to win the trust of those who hire them."

"What I like about Berklee is how much it has to offer students. It's a big place, which sometimes can be difficult for students to navigate, but the motivated student can find everything he or she wants here. Berklee is the New York City of music schools: everything is here, someplace, sometime, if you can only find it."