For most people, Thursday, March 17, was a day to drink and be Irish, but for the New Music Collective, it was a night of experimental and avant garde music.
The New Music Collective (NMC) was started in 2014 by a group of South Alabama student composers. The NMC performance features a brass quintet, snare drumming and many more instrumentals.
The theme for the concert was “experimental avant garde.” Various members of the NMC performed contemporary pieces. “At the turn of the 20th century going into the last century, it became popular to write for avant garde music, like different instruments, instruments that had never been heard before, making your own instruments, and also improvisation, where instead of reading music that’s typically notated on a traditional staff, you might read music… that’s a painting and you translate that into music,” Luke Smith, a senior Percussion Performance major, said.
The concert was performed at the Mobile Museum of Art. Downstairs, in a small room, the musicians performed their pieces. The room was softly lit with no microphones or really any sound system for the most part. The music was authentic, and the musicians’ close proximity to the audience created an intimate, comfortable setting.
There were some traditional instrumentals. A brass quartet performed a piece entitled “Four Sketches.” The quintet, which featured two trumpets, a trombone, a tuba and a French horn, played four different pieces. The first piece had an adventurous tune to it. It was reminiscent of a score from a 1950s film noir. The second piece was more somber and forlorn. The third piece was shorter than the others. It had an upbeat, fun tune. The final piece was very fast paced and busy.
The majority of the pieces performed were undeniably avant garde. There were some traditional instruments that were played in unusual ways. The piece “With Ryan” incorporated two electric guitars played in the most unusual way. The guitars were laid flat on a table. Smith and another member of NMC banged a hammer on the table, causing the strings to vibrate, which in turn produced music. The two musicians also stroked the guitar strings with different objects such as clothes pins, sticks and even their fingers.
Another performance that really embodied the experimental theme was a piece entitled “Never odd or even.” This piece utilized metal mixing bowls as instruments. The sound produced was whimsical, resembling the sounds of wind chimes.
“Since it’s a popular thing to do among composers, we decided to put on a concert ourselves of our own experimental music as well as famous experimental pieces,” Smith said. In total, there were eight original pieces that were composed by members of the NMC. Smith himself performed several of the pieces, both solo and accompanied by another musician. “I like to write multiple pieces at a time, two maybe three at the most. It just helps me generate new ideas.”
Some of the pieces performed at Thursday night’s concert had previously been performed at the Laidlaw Performing Arts Center last semester. The other pieces have been a work in progress since January.
The next NMC concert will be during the summer at the Mobile Museum of Art. If you are interested in those dates, visit mobilemuseumofart.com.