An elective music class showcased the creative talents they learned throughout the semester at a concert Thursday night.
The concert, at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art, was the end-of-term performance of SCHC 367: Experimental Music Workshop, an elective offered to members of the South Carolina Honors College.
According to Greg Stuart, an assistant professor in the School of Music and the instructor of the workshop, experimental music is a more loose and conceptual form of music which often uses unconventional sounds, instrumentation and structures to create its atmospheres.
“In tonight’s concert, the instrumentation is quite various,” Stuart said. “The students on one piece are basically making sounds with pieces of paper and their voice. In another piece, they’re all using their phones as tone generators.”
Stuart said that experimental music is a genre of music that came became prominent following World War II, when American composer John Cage began experimenting with sound in new ways.
“Cage is interested in working with music and sound in a new way,” Stuart said. “He’s known for incorporating chance elements into his pieces, for using novel instruments, inventing instruments, new ways of organizing time and form and also famously incorporates silence into his pieces.”
The concert not only featured the talents of Stuart and the student workshop but also featured guest performances from Jennifer Parker-Harley, director of the USC Flute Studio, members of the studio and Erik Carlson, a contemporary music violinist.
Throughout the concert, five different pieces were performed. Some relied solely on classic instruments like flutes and violins, while others incorporated more experimental elements. The first piece, “aerosol aperture,” composed by Stuart, used the violin in conjunction with sheets of paper that were ripped, flicked and wiggled to make various ambient sounds.
John Chang, a third-year public relations student who attended the concert, spoke about experimental music’s uniqueness.
“I’ve certainly never seen any performance like this, and I think it’s brand new," Chang said. “There’s this broadness and deepness that’s underneath the violin and the percussion."
After the performance, Zaria Coachman, a third-year biology student and workshop member, spoke about how she got involved in the class. Coachman said she essentially took the class on a whim, looking for an elective that she thought would provide stress relief from her other courses.
“I like it because it’s like relaxation a little, to be able to explore different worlds,” Coachman said.
She said that while at first she was intimidated by the class and music style, she’s come to appreciate its uniqueness.
“At first I was like, ‘I'm not gonna like this class,’ but now I love it,” Coachman said. “I can hear music in any random instrument or any random thing.”