Glennie crosses musical boundaries with unusual ease. In addition to performances with most of the major European and American classical orchestras, she has worked with the Kodo Japanese drummers, the experimental Icelandic pop vocalist Björk, Javanese gamelan ensembles, Brazilian samba bands, and other musicians on five continents. Her album Shadow Behind the Iron Sun, released in 2000, fulfilled Glennie's long-held desire to join forces with a pop producer, in this case the veteran American studio wizard Michael Brauer. The disc showcased the large collection of percussion instruments Glennie has mastered (she has well over 1,300 instruments in her personal collection), including homemade instruments, most notably a set of cut and tuned car exhaust pipes, as well as sounds from around the world.
A composer herself, Glennie has written music for film and television in collaboration with the composer and web designer Greg Malcangi. She also plays the Great Highland bagpipes. Her numerous awards include "Scotswoman of the Decade," a Grammy award for her 1989 recording of Bartók
's Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, and her designation as Officer of the British Empire at the age of 27, an honor very rarely given to anyone under 50. She was upgraded in 2007 to Dame Commander (DBE).
Glennie does not mention her deafness in press materials, and she has been known to react with exasperation when asked about it to the exclusion of musical matters. She is profoundly deaf, meaning that while she cannot understand speech, she can hear some sound. What she hears is augmented, as it is for everyone else, by her sense of touch. The sensation of feeling vibrations is experienced by Glennie at various frequencies and in various parts of her body. She tends to feel low sounds in her legs and feet, and high ones on her face, neck, and chest. Glennie contends that hearing is a form of touch, and that everyone, whether "deaf" or not, processes sound in an individual way. Glennie's autobiography, Good Vibrations, appeared in 1990.