The Dischords: The Antithesis of Discordant

Despite what their name might suggest, the Dischords are a capable and unified group of a capella singers. Established in 2001, the Dischords were the fourth Colgate a capella group to form, and the second co-ed group to emerge here. 

Unlike their older counterparts, the Dischords don’t have a defined music style. Senior Marissa Koh, one of the Dischords’ two music directors, says that the group’s musical genres change yearly.

“Every year based on leadership, [the music we sing] goes through change,” Koh explained. “That’s something that I think is so special about the Dischords. We don’t really have a brand.”

Junior Michael Hanratty, the Dischords’ second music director, says that this is partly because the group has members from all parts of the student body.

“One of the things I love about the group is that there’s a lot of people that I probably never would have met or been friends with before the Dischords,” Hanratty said.

Sophomore Danielle Silverman said that the group won’t just play songs of different genres that are currently popular, but also ones that people might not have ever heard. 

“We try to do songs that people are familiar with, but also ones they haven’t heard in a while. It’s a good balance and makes our performances enjoyable,” Silverman said.

The Dischords is made up of between ten and twenty members each year, all with different musical backgrounds. Both Hanratty and Koh grew up singing in a capella groups, but some members such as Silverman only really got into music after joining the Dischords.

“You have to have some foundation of music, understanding scales, pitch and timing, but other than that you don’t need to be an expert or anything,” Silverman said. “We are all learning along the way, which is also another great part of this group.”

In order to join the Dischords, a student will go through a formal audition process at the beginning of each semester. Both Hanratty and Koh work closely alongside the other a capella group leaders to make sure that everything runs smoothly.

“So, at the beginning of each semester, we’ll work it out among the leaders of the five groups and say, auditions are going to run during this week and then we’ll publicize,” said Hanratty. “Then at the end of auditions, we’ll get together the five groups again, and sort of hash out who’s going to take who.”

Audition week is not the only time that the Dischords work with other a capella groups. The Resolutions, another coed group, will be performing with the Dischords for their annual Fall concert on Nov. 12. 

There is some friendly competition between the a capella groups, though according to Hanratty and Koh there is no real rivalry.

“We’re definitely motivated by hearing the other groups and when they sound really good, it makes us want to work harder and sound better,” said Hanratty. “There’s no animosity, we’re all very friendly [with each other].”

The Dischords have two two-hour practices each week. According to Koh, this isn’t a daunting time commitment.

“Initially as a [first-year], I guess [the time commitment] scared me a little bit,” Koh said. “But then as the semester went on and I came into rehearsals, I realized that it didn’t feel like a commitment at all whatsoever. It just was something that I was always looking forward to doing.”

Silverman thinks that the time spent practicing is an opportunity to unwind, so the time spent isn’t treated as a commitment by her either.

“For me, singing is a break from the academic stress of the week, and it’s just a time to forget about school work and just relax,” Silverman said. “It’s an awesome way to just take a break and make friends along the way.”

College students, especially first-years, often want to join dozens of clubs and be involved in every fun thing on campus, but Koh says that this isn’t the best way of doing things.

“I think that it’s so easy in college to go to the club fair and see, like, a million different tables in front of you and wanting to go to everything,” Koh said. “But, I think just making sure that [you find] that one thing that you really love and just dedicate your time and effort to it. That is something that’s really special to me, and that’s what I found [in the Dischords].”