After Thanksgiving, it feels like an eternity until winter break comes along. But now is the time to get down and boogie, shake and jig to the beat of the “drums” at Groove’s upcoming performance, “Percussion Concussion,” which will hit the Michigan Theater tonight.
Groove Presents: Percussion Concussion
Tonight at 7 p.m.
Groove is a student-run percussion group that prides itself on its non-traditional forms of music. Instead of viewing an object as having a singular purpose, Groove takes items and transforms them into musical instruments.
In the past, Groove has made music with hammers, sheet metal and screwdrivers, proving even construction materials can produce music. By piecing together a series of PVC pipes, the group fashioned an unusual version of a xylophone — played using paddles, it creates a distinctive timbre. In this upcoming show, the group is performing a number in which its members bang on traffic signs hung up around the stage, which further emphasizes how commonplace objects can be musical in their own right.
Though Groove develops its own music, choreography and instruments, all it requires of members is the ability to maintain rhythm and to keep a tempo. LSA junior Griffin Working said while his fellow members of Groove come from a variety of musical backgrounds, the individuals without traditional training often bring the most novel ideas to the table.
“One person will describe the sounds he is imagining in terms of a musical noise,” Working said. “Is it echo-like, melodic or more metallic? And then we will try to figure it out and experiment with different materials.”
Groove is not only a percussion group, but also a performance group. Members connect many of their musical pieces with narratives and central themes, which involve acting as well as choreography. In a previous performance, they presented a skit in which two friends brushed their teeth together after an eventful college weekend. The accompanying piece evoked different stroking sounds from the bristles on their toothbrushes.
In “Percussion Concussion,” the theme of concussion runs deeper than simply the show’s name. In one number, some of the members will become the drums themselves, while others will bang out tunes on their heads. Helmets will protect them from suffering an actual concussion.
For tonight’s performance, Groove will collaborate with campus tap dance group Rhythm. Working said he was at first skeptical about the partnership until he learned how tap dancers make their own instrumental patterns and beats with their feet. Together, Rhythm and Groove were able to communicate on a rhythmic and percussive level in order to develop a synthesized piece that showcases the talents of each group.
Music is not always strictly structured like a symphony or even a rock band — at a Groove performance, any noise can be a form of music. Whether they employ kitchenware or a trash can, songs pervade our lives. Groove questions a closed interpretation of music and exposes us to all that it can represent.