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Musically-inclined students find diverse creative outlets around campus — alone, in a group, electronically, acoustically — creating a scene in which students can build off one another's talents.

In fact, some musicians may be surprised by the number of student artists currently performing — or even working on albums.

"I feel like there are a lot of musicians on campus, but they have a hard time connecting," said Stephen Poletto '12, who mixes music on his computer and produces "mash-up work."

Rats on the loose
For Benjamin Nicholson '11, Heidi Jiang '11 and Rhode Island School of Design junior Dylan Ladds, releasing an album did not mean stressing over signing with a record label. On March 19, their band, Leaky People, privately produced its first CD, "Rats Eating Rats."
The band, which started a little over a year ago, has been playing at small venues like Ben & Jerry's on Meeting Street. Guitarist and singer Nicholson said he first met bassist Jiang during their freshman year, when they started playing cover songs.

"All through high school, I played music in a bunch of bands, and we recorded albums. It was something I really enjoyed doing, and coming to Brown, I found there was more access to equipment without having to pay the hourly studio fee," Nicholson said.

The band, which Jiang described as "kind of folky," wrote most songs with just an acoustic guitar and vocals. Afterward, more instruments were added, such as bass, electric guitar and drum patterns from a computer. Jiang described the production process, including recording and editing, as very long.

Sharing ideas through melody

Other Brown musicians, such as Addie Thompson '12, go solo.

Thompson, an acoustic singer and songwriter, has been playing the guitar since sixth grade. "I bought a chord book and taught myself to play," she said. "I was motivated mainly because I had a lot of songs in my head and I wanted to hear them."

She added that she sometimes makes up stories in her songs. "About half of my songs are like that. The other half are very personal and are very much about me. I usually don't tell people which ones are which."

Thompson said when she writes songs, she usually starts with a melody or an idea. "I then marry the two when I sit down and play the guitar," she added.

At Brown, Thompson has performed as both a solo artist and part of a band called One Night Band. She has given performances at the Underground, talent shows and coffee shops. She said she likes to gauge people's reactions when she plays.

"It is nice to sort of see and get feedback from people, what songs they liked, what songs they didn't," she said.

The electronic approach
But for others, music does not always involve instruments. "I usually set up really loud speakers, my laptop, some strobe lights and do live improv work for 45 minutes," said Poletto, whose artist name is Spoletto.

Poletto, who began working on his music a year ago, said he was influenced by Girl Talk and hopes to perform live in the near future. "I've DJ'ed a few parties, but I want to get out of that and do more concert-style shows."

Poletto said he took a few electronic music courses that taught him the basics of what he does. He spends a lot of time collecting samples online then laying down tracks and layering drum beats on top.

Poletto said he is currently taking MUSC 1200: "Seminar in Electronic Music: Recording Studio as Compositional Tool."

"I'm building up a lot of knowledge about what these software packages can produce," he said.

From the stage to the streets
Though these students quickly broke into Brown's music scene, many campus musicians may wonder how to become part of the University's music community.

"The first thing you should do is play with your friends," Jiang said.

Nicholson agreed. He encouraged any musicians looking to play with others to go to "any type of open mic."

"People play in their rooms, and they don't always start a band, but you get to meet people and see what music other people are interested in playing," he added.

Poletto and Sam Rosenfeld '12 plan to organize a Web site where musicians can work together. The idea would be to have a musician upload a piece of music so that other musicians will have access to it.

"A drummer can come, upload his track and a guitarist can come and see it. He can lay it over his own music and re-upload it. Then a singer can come and lay his own music over that track," Poletto said.

"There is an evolution, creation and recreation of content. Musicians would be building off of the work of each other and fueling each other," he said.


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