About Brian Smith

Brian Smith is a musician and writer interested in exploring cultural practices, social forces, and technology through the medium of sound and music performance. Praised for his feline-like grace as a percussionist, Brian delivers “committed and energetic” performances with a versatile repertoire that includes historical, contemporary, experimental, and ethnographic music practices. His work as a contemporary percussionist includes the U.S. premiere of James Wood’s “Jôdo” and improvisatory audio-visual works utilizing animated notational schemes. He is also a co-founder and member of RhumbLine, a sound art collective that produces interactive eco-acoustic swarms of mechanical zoomorphic sound sculptures, acoustically reproducing environmental soundscapes. Brian’s current “solo” project, Human+, combines his interest in technologically-mediated sonic arts with a fiendish advocacy for new works by living composers to develop a repertoire of duets for musical robotics and percussionist.

A member of the Percussive Arts Society Scholarly Research Committee, Brian has presented artistic and academic research on musical robotics and animated notation at International conferences, including the Transplanted Roots Research Symposium, Music & the Moving Image, and Reproduced Sound. His research has been published in the conference proceedings of New Interfaces for Musical Expression and the Institute of Acoustics. The RLPE installation has been featured in New York, Shanghai, and the Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States.

As an orchestral percussionist, Brian has performed with ensembles throughout the U.S. and Europe, appearing in world-class concert halls including the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and the Berlin Philharmonie. He plays period timpani and percussion with the Staunton Music Festival, and his ethnographic interests include West African drumming and dance from the Gbe-speaking region in Ghana, Togo, and Benin. ​

Brian received a bachelor’s degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, a master’s degree from Rice University, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from Stony Brook University.