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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

‘A Renaissance’: Taking a Pulse on the Dartmouth Music Community

Student musicians discussed Dartmouth’s thriving music scene but noted common limitations they face when creating and performing.

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Music is embedded in our college experiences — whether it be belting out lyrics with friends on a night out or stumbling across a new favorite song that ingrains itself in your mind.  Dartmouth’s campus is riddled with musicians — songwriters, producers, instrumentalists,  singers and more. However, student musicians sometimes struggle with limited performance opportunities and the need to cater to general audiences rather than being able to explore artistically. 

According to Sachi Badola ’26, student bands are a prevalent music source in Dartmouth nightlife, which is what draws many students to join a band. However, this prominence in nightlife comes with its artistic limitations.

“There are bands that have really, really talented participants, but in order to please a drunk crowd, they won’t perform more niche songs,” Filippone explained.

This limitation can also be found among a cappella groups.

“I think catering to the Dartmouth student body is something we definitely do and we try to balance our shows with songs that will be fun to listen to,” Sophie Saraisky ’25, a member of the Decibelles, said.

For some band members, these limitations  encourage them to employ creativity and experimentation, finding ways to work with the audience’s taste while also satisfying the band’s artistic desires.

“I think those limitations can actually be a really good thing, though, because they push all the musicians to really explore their musicianship and find ways to make a standard set their own,”  Filippone said. “One of the coolest things that I saw last year was how [the band] Frank made it so that you could always tell that it was a Frank show, even if they were playing a song you’ve heard a 100 times before … They had a saxophone, and they brought a little bit of a bluesy feel to it.” 

As a result of these limitations with performing in fraternities, bands and a cappella groups sometimes seek out opportunities in other locations, so they can expand their repertoire. 

“[The Dodecaphonics] go on tour every winter,” Badola explained. “So, this past year, I was a tour manager, and we went to New Orleans. For each set, we like to do one warm-up song that most people would know. Then, we try to do some older pop that isn’t as popular now, but kind of throwback.”

Filippone also discussed how students have been proactive in finding performance spaces in town. 

“There’s been a live series going on [that] started in the fall at Umplebys, where some people go and perform,” Filippone said. “They tend to have … three or four people [perform] super casually, like a half-hour set. They had a really nice … setup with nice lighting and a very intimate, coffee house feel.”

Another way students circumvent the creative limitations of performing at frats is by working on and releasing independent music. Filippone recently released a self-recorded EP titled “Notes From Vince.” 

Filippone said the creative community at Dartmouth works together to support each other in musical endeavors like these.

“I’ve worked a lot with my friends — just like jamming and sending each other [things I’m] working on and getting feedback and writing notes,” Filippone explained. “The word that comes to mind when I think of all the variety of talent here is a bit of a renaissance, in a way, where music is very accessible at this moment.”

Despite these challenges, music has been an important part of many students’ Dartmouth experience.

“Music is really just such an integral part of the campus life here that we don’t even realize it,” Filippone said.  “There are bands going on all the time and a cappella groups. “At the end of the day, it is a really artistic campus.”