The Scarlet & Black

The Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Improv Music conjures the unexpected

If you’re going to make up music on the spot, it’s often better to be making it up with friends. The Grinnell Improv Music Group that meets in Bucksbaum every Sunday evening has made fostering this free flowing, unrestricted form of art their primary goal.

Improv Music member Gaelyn Hutchinson '13 jams on the baby grand during a Sunday evening meeting. Photograph by Kathlyn Cabrera.

Professor Eric McIntyre, Music, and Gaelyn Hutchinson ’13 have decided to collaborate in order to bring back the element of the unexpected into music at Grinnell, rather than the conventional style of playing pre-set and pre-prepared pieces. The group aims to get a number of musically inclined students together in a room once a week and improvise different pieces of music by layering up each other’s musical ideas and past experiences.

“[It’s like] walking into a dark room and not knowing where you’re going,” McIntyre said. “You ‘play’ your way around it, and bump into other musicians, and make music. ”

In addition to being an somewhat unconventional method, improvisational music is quite a challenging venture and highly rewarding as well.

“Improvisational music is dialogical,” Hutchinson said. “When you play in a band it’s all been pre-written, but actually having to negotiate with the music and each other adds a sort of fluidity to its sound.”

Regardless of a musician’s level of expertise in a particular instrument, the group tries to promote and propagate the understanding of what McIntyre calls “musical sensitivities.”

Improvisational music, in its most pure and unaltered form, has no rehearsals and no pre-discussed patterns—what you hear is what you get. The group ultimately hopes not only challenge musicians to step out of their bubbles of musical complacency, but also to promote an audience with an ear for this kind of unaltered music.

View Comments (2)
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (2)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • G

    girijahutchinsonSep 26, 2011 at 10:09 am

    You are soooo cool. Congrats on your improv

  • G

    Gaelyn HutchinsonSep 23, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Sundays at 7:00pm, BCA 152.