Making Music: First-years at Swarthmore

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An eclectic mix of classical, choral, jazz, hip-hop, and rock defines the Swarthmore music scene. The college offers many opportunities for musicians to perform and connect with others to play and produce music through the music department as well as several clubs and venues. The Swarthmore Gospel Choir, Chaverim, and WSRN all provide venues for musically interested students. Depending on the type of music, many first-years are involved or working to get involved and develop their melodic talents.

Loud and Underground, a group founded by Dina Ginzburg ’18, focuses on engaging queer people, people of color, and/or women who are interested in making music. She was driven to found the group by her frustration with the Swarthmore music scene and the lack of an art scene that allowed for creative collaboration and community.

“The scene is dominated by straight white guys playing guitar rock,” said Ginzburg.

Since its founding, Loud and Underground has hosted a costume cover show in Olde Club and a basement show in The Barn. Currently the group is planning to have a Trico Loud and Underground Mixer. Additionally, the club will host a second costume cover show and hopes to add more events throughout the year.

Loud and Underground hopes to foster a culture in the music scene that creates a low barrier of entry.

“The idea is that you don’t need to be really good at playing an instrument to make cool and interesting music, and sometimes it’s even easier when you don’t know how to do anything to do it in a new way,” Ginzburg said.

Loud and Underground offers an open and engaged community to people of color, women, and queer people interested in artistic and musical expression. With a diverse and expanding music scene at Swarthmore, first-years are trying to determine where their talents and interests lie.

Cielo De Dios ’21 plays piano and composes. She is interested in joining an instrumental group but isn’t sure how to get involved. She categorizes her compositions as modern and is excited at the prospect of potentially working with other students to compose and perform.

“Most of the music groups I’ve heard of at Swat are a cappella groups which I’m not really interested in joining, however, if there’s any other kinds of music groups that involve instrumentals then yeah I’d be down to join,” said De Dios.

Lucas Barton ’21 is already involved with the college orchestra and wind ensemble where he plays tuba. Aside from his performances, Barton enjoys composing various types of music for piano and tuba.

“Since I have no grand ambition as a composer my work is usually inspiration based. Often, I’d find myself humming a tune I’d come up with and I’d sit down at the piano and think, ‘well what could I do with this?’ Eighty percent of the time the answer was nothing at all, but for the other twenty percent I would sit at the piano for a while and fit that tune into either a melody or bassline, which I’d return to later to add parts that were missing,” Barton said, describing his artistic process.

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