Tamsin Dearnley

I have enjoyed writing music for pretty much as long as I can remember. As a child I would subject my family to nonsense songs about raindrops and spiders, before dragging my long-suffering mother to the piano to help me write down my latest creation.

Luckily, I am now capable of notating music sans parental aid, and I do so as often as I can. When an injury forced me to take a (depressingly long) break from playing the harp, I embarked upon a masters degree in writing music, obtaining a distinction under the tutelage of Nigel Osborne (I still find this hard to believe but I wasn't going to argue...!).

My particular area of academic interest was the relationship between language and music.

Compositions for the lever harp

Perhaps unsurprisingly I write a fair amount of music for the lever harp. I love to explore the boundaries of this incredibly versatile instrument and try to use harmonic language that one mightn't expect to hear on what is still often seen as a 'folk' instrument.

I write a lot of music for students and workshop groups and will often compose pieces to utilise a particular technique - exercises are of course important, but using a particular technique in a real piece is often a lot more satisfying!

I have a long-held fascination jazz and like to try to encorporate this style of music into my compositions. Somewhat incredibly, I was hugely honoured to win both 1st and 3rd prizes at the 2018 Wild Strings Pop and Jazz Harp festival composition competition with my piece '16,234(.47)' and the lively, ragtime-inspired piece 'The Moving House Rag' (with which I am grateful to have had the immense privilege of contributing to the Trinity College grade 5 exam syllabus!).

Compositions for other instruments

As well as the harp. I enjoy writing music for a wide range of instruments, and will confess to having a particular weakness for choral music and the bowed string instruments.

Songs, absent friends and clandestine guitar borrowing...

The Covid-19 crisis was an incredibly difficult time for all of us who work in the creative industries. I'd be lying if I said it was a time of unbridled creativity, but an only-slightly-illegal meeting of a friend in a side street to borrow a guitar (not an instrument I'd ever really tried to play before, but one has to start somewhere!) led to a sudden desire to try something new!

I've been a huge admirer of Joni Mitchell's 'Song To A Seagull' since I was a teenager so I suppose this is my homage to that dreamlike, curious and somehow nostalgically hopeful atmosphere.

Click here for more information on this project.

Game Music

Writing music specifically intended to create or complement a specific atmosphere is a very different proposition from simply writing abstract 'art' music.

I relish the challenge of an unusual brief, however - what sort of music /might/ a suburban debutante play to impress her parents' friends in a Stepford-esque satirical recreation of 1960s America?! What sweeping synths might you hear as you escape a doomed spaceship in a galaxy moderately far away...?!

Game music can also provide an excuse to be unashamedly lyrical (just occasionally I get the sense that this is considered by some academics to be something one should avoid at all costs, but that's definitely an argument for another place!), as well as to use all manner of unusual instrumentation and electronic techniques. Coming from a fairly diehard acoustic background, I am still amazed by the ways sounds can be produced and manipulated electronically, and am always expanding my repertoire of techniques.


What can I say, I moonlight as the neon and gated reverb-loving producer of 80s-tastic synthwave music Neonica Lord just BECAUSE I CAN (and it's great fun!).

My debut album, 'Lipstick Neon' was released in 2018 and I'm currently producing second album in a slightly different vein using a mixture of synths, drum samples, interviews and excerpts from NASA recordings to illustrate the journey of space exploration through the Apollo missions.