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Geoff Smith: Biography

 
Composer, performer, inventor, designer, vocalist, songwriter and percussionist Geoff Smith is acknowledged both as a world-leading virtuoso and a unique innovator and pioneer in composition, technique and performance on the Hammered Dulcimer. He works with various unique designs of Dulcimers in his work as a composer and performer. These include the ‘Fluid Dulcimer’, which incorporates adjustable microtonal tuning (Fluid Tuning), a prototype chromatic Dulcimer and a range of custom diatonic Dulcimers. Smith lives in Brighton, UK. He was born and bred in the city.

Smith is the only musician in the world to have explored, in both composition and performance, a comprehensive spectrum of percussion and drum rudiments on the Hammered Dulcimer. Intrinsic to facilitating this performance technique has been the use of a different design of hammers as well as method of gripping the hammers: i.e. the way in which the hammers are actually held in each hand and manoeuvred within each hand during performance. Please visit the videos page for a range of performances that demonstrate this method.

Furthermore, in what represents a genuinely revolutionary development in the history of music he is internationally recognized as having reinvented the acoustic piano: http://www.thefluidpiano.com/

The Fluid Piano evolved from the prototype Fluid Dulcimer. Both instruments feature the aforementioned Fluid Tuning mechanisms that enable the instruments’ tuning to be altered by precise microtonal intervals before and during performance.

After hundreds of years the acoustic piano has been liberated from the restrictions of being limited to ‘western’ tuning, to make The Fluid Piano the first 'multicultural’ piano. This enables musicians to explore, conserve and experiment with, an immense diversity of ‘indigenous’ scales, modes and tuning temperaments from around the world:
The Guardian: 'Composer reinvents the piano': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7Cq3pbcMkI

Smith is also an internationally recognized composer and performer of film music (‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’, 'Haxan – Witchcraft through the Ages’, ‘Faust’, 'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari’) and has performed at numerous major venues and festivals in the UK and Europe. The UK tours were ‘the most successful and high profile live cinema events since the end of the silent era’. In October 2015 he performed ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’ at the Dulcimer World Congress which was held in the UK for the first time.

‘The Cabinet of Dr Caligari’ album is available via this website. The ‘Haxan’ DVD released by Tartan, featuring Smith’s soundtrack, can be purchased via Amazon.

In December 2015 Smith travelled to Beijing China to teach advanced Dulcimer techniques to Yanqin students at the China Conservatory. He taught with a particular focus on composition and the application of a comprehensive range of percussion rudiments to the Dulcimer and Yangqin.

Smith has significant experience as a composer and performer working with choreography. He has worked in Japan where he collaborated with 'Shakti and the Vasanta Mala Dance company': he was commissioned to compose and perform a score for a new contemporary ballet production based on the story of ‘Salome’. ‘Salome’ toured Japan. The ‘Salome’ album is available via this website.

Throughout his work as a composer and performer Smith dedicated himself to exploring ‘Fluid Tuning’ (adjustable microtonal tuning) in design, composition and performance on the Hammered Dulcimer, as both research & development and the precursor to the eventual incorporation of Fluid Tuning into the Acoustic piano: via the invention, design and construction of the Fluid Piano.

Smith is also an experienced public speaker and has made presentations, given seminars and lectures in China, South Korea, USA, UK, Turkey, Poland, Czech republic and Belgium.

In 2015 'The Fluid Piano' & Utsav Lal project' took place in the UK - this was the composition and recording of the first Fluid Piano album by the renowned Indian raga pianist Utsav Lal. The album was released on ‘Fluid Piano recordings’ in July 2016. This project was supported by Arts Council England: http://www.thefluidpiano.com/album-release

Following on from his performance at the International Dulcimer Festival 2017 in Valašské Meziříčí, Czech republic Smith also performed at the Cimbalom World Congress at Banska Bystrica in Slovakia 2017. Both projects were supported by Arts Council England and included research in practice with the innovative aim of realising collaborations with dulcimer players from other cultures, for example Chinese yangqin players and Czech, Slovak and Hungarian cimbalom players. This culminated in a performance of songs composed for dulcimer and vocal. This performance featured Smith on vocal and Fluid Dulcimer and the highly talented Malaysian Chinese Yangin player Ng JiaWei who performed the main accompaniment parts. Smith had previously only ever performed these songs solo - simultaneously on dulcimer with vocals.

In 2018 Smith worked on a collaboration with the renowned Turkish guitarist Tolgahan Cogulu who is the inventor of the ‘Adjustable Microtonal Guitar’: World’s first performance on the Fluid Dulcimer & Adjustable Microtonal Guitar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYQqq0prv8c

Smith is currently writing a complete new album of songs. This project has evolved from the collaboration at the World Dulcimer Congress in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia.

Smith was also the founder member of the band ‘Attacco Decente’ with whom he released numerous albums and toured the UK and Europe extensively between 1986-1996.

Attacco Decente back catalogue recordings are available for purchase via this website.

Smith studied for his Masters degree in composition at the London College of Music where he was awarded the Howard Goodall prize for composition.