Scott Smallwood

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Scott Smallwood is a composer and improviser living in upstate New York. His group involvements include Nyquist, 50 Man Machine, Brown Cuts Neighbors, Nickname: REBEL, and EVIDENCE. In these he plays…
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Artist Biography by

Scott Smallwood is a composer and improviser living in upstate New York. His group involvements include Nyquist, 50 Man Machine, Brown Cuts Neighbors, Nickname: REBEL, and EVIDENCE. In these he plays drums, percussion, and electronics, but his most original contribution is his playing of a steel-pan drum hooked via contact microphones to a computer running sound processing software. He also composes sound art and electro-acoustic pieces.

Smallwood began fiddling with tape records at age ten. His interest in music continued throughout high school. He studied composition, piano, and percussion at Seattle Pacific University, Miami University, and the Peabody Conservatory at the John Hopkins University, where he obtained his master's degree in computer music in 1996. He wrote contemporary classical pieces for various instrumentations during these years, but he eventually left that field behind to focus on free and structured improvisation on the one hand and sound art on the other. His main musical partners since the mid-'90s have been bassists Curtis Bahn and Seth Cluett, shakuhachi player Joel Taylor, and electrician Stephan Moore, but he has also performed with Leroy Jenkins, Joe McPhee, Philip Gelb, Scott Rosenberg, and Pauline Oliveros.

While working as a technical consultant in audio/video production and web design, Smallwood pushed his musical career forward in the late '90s. Establishing the CDR-only record label Wavelet in 1998 allowed him to release a string of albums in limited editions. With Moore, he founded Impulse Response, a concert series of experimental music in Troy, NY. Since 1997, Smallwood teaches at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In 2001, he was appointed technical director of the iEAR Studios there. The same year, he was offered an artist residency at the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Wendover, UT. It yielded a series of sound-art pieces collected on Desert Winds, his first "official" CD, released on Pauline Oliveros' Deep Listening label in early 2002.