Brian Harnetty

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Brian Harnetty (born May 10, 1973) is an American composer, sound artist, and writer. His work brings together sound archives, performance, ecology, and place, and is focused on local and regional issues of the midwest and Appalachia.[1]

Harnetty studied music composition with Michael Finnissy at the Royal Academy of Music,[2] and studied interdisciplinary arts and music composition at Ohio University and The Ohio State University. He has taught music and interdisciplinary arts at Kenyon College, Goddard College, and Ohio University.

Harnetty's music is released on Dust-to-Digital, Atavistic, and Scioto Records. His 2009 release, Silent City, featured singer Will Oldham on three tracks.[3] He has twice received four-star reviews from Mojo Magazine, and his 2013 release, The Star-Faced One: from the Sun Ra/El Sa turn Archives was Mojo's "Underground Album of the Year."[4]

As an author, Harnetty has written for New Music Box,[5] Experimental Music Yearbook,[6] Sound Effects, and Cultural Studies.


Harnetty is known for working with sound archives as compositional source material. His process has been compared to "working like a create a new text, breathing new life into old chunks of sound by radically recontextualising them."[4]

Many of his pieces transform archival material––including field recordings, transcriptions, and historic recordings––into newly re-imagined sound collages. Harnetty works closely with archivists, historians, and communities connected to sound archives.[7] He uses the practice of "sonic ethnography," referred to as "the study of people, place, and culture through sound" and "the practice of listening and experiencing." Harnetty has done recording projects with the Berea College Appalachian Sound Archives in Kentucky;[4] the Sun Ra/El Saturn Creative Audio Archive in Chicago;[8] and the Little Cities of Black Diamonds Archives in Shawnee, Ohio, and the Anne Grimes Collection in the Library of Congress.

Honors and awards[edit]

  • A Blade of Grass Fellow for Contemplative Practice (2018)[9]
  • Creative Capital award for Performing Arts (2016)[10]
  • National Performance Network Residency Grant (2016)[11]
  • Individual Artist Excellence Award, Ohio Arts Council (2016)[12]
  • MOJO Magazine, 2013 Underground Album of the Year (2013)[4]
  • Paste Magazine, Artist of the Week (2009)[3]
  • Artist in Residence, Headlands Center for the Arts, California (2005)[13]
  • Individual Artist Excellence Award, Ohio Arts Council (2003)


  • Desire and Winter Birds, (Tell-All, 2006)
  • American Winter, (Atavistic, 2007)
  • Silent City, (Atavistic, 2009)
  • The Sociophonic Key, (Scioto, 2012)
  • The Star-Faced One: From the Sun Ra/El Saturn Archives, (Atavistic, 2013)
  • Rawhead & Bloodybones, (Dust-to-Digital, 2015)

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Brian Harnetty's Shawnee, Ohio Premieres at the Wexner Center on October 27–28". 2016-10-26. Retrieved 2016-11-14.
  2. ^ Bell, Clive. The Wire, November issue, pg. 51, 2009
  3. ^ a b "Artist of the Week: Brian Harnetty". Retrieved 2016-11-14.
  4. ^ a b c d Male, Andrew. 2016. Mojo Magazine, March issue. Male, Andrew. 2014. Mojo Magazine, January issue, p. 67. Male, Andrew. 2013. Mojo Magazine, September issue, p. 91.
  5. ^ "Brian Harnetty | NewMusicBox". Retrieved 2016-11-14.
  6. ^ "The Experimental Music Yearbook". Retrieved 2016-11-14.
  7. ^ "Concert preview: Brian Harnetty mines southeast Ohio's past for 'Shawnee, Ohio'". Columbus Alive. Retrieved 2016-11-14.
  8. ^ Coley, Byron. 2013. The Wire, June issue, pp. 49-51.
  9. ^ "Brian Harnetty - ABOG Fellow for Contemplative Practice". Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  10. ^ "Creative Capital - Investing in Artists who Shape the Future". Retrieved 2016-11-14.
  11. ^ "Brian Harnetty: Shawnee, Ohio - Contemporary Arts Center". Retrieved 2016-11-14.
  12. ^ "News | 75 Ohio Artists Receive Individual Excellence Awards". Retrieved 2016-11-14.
  13. ^ "Brian Harnetty - Headlands Center for the Arts". Headlands Center for the Arts. Retrieved 2016-11-14.