Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Wonderful Note in the Desert - The Musical Instrument Museum


If you are anywhere remotely near Scottsdale (or even two states away), you have to go the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM).  And I’m serious!  The museum is a truly eclectic collection of every kind of musical instrument from around the world.  Plan on spending the better part of the day there as you will be immersed with music from around the globe and learn how the energy of music shapes and defines cultures.  Music has been called the language of the soul and instruments are responsible for awakening that soul.

The museum officially opened in 2010 and was the brainchild of Robert J. Ulrich (former CEO and chairman emeritus of Target Corporation) and friend Marc Felix.  After visiting the Musical Instrument Museum in Brussels, Belgium, they wanted to bring the splendor of musical instruments home to the United States.  So they set out to create a museum that uses state-of-the-art audiovisual technology to display the sounds of every musical instrument and musical genre of every country from the far corners of the world.  That concept may sound boring, but it is definitely not.

The museum brings static instruments to life by using wireless headsets to play loops of streamed music.  This effect immerses you in the sound of the instruments and transitions you from one exhibit to another.  Flat panel screens show videos displaying how instruments are played, constructed, and used. 

 There are numerous galleries, including the "Artists Gallery" where individuals, their instruments, and musical contributions are highlighted.  Many of the artists donated instruments and other memorabilia to the museum.

Taylor Swift is a recent addition to the gallery.
One of my favorites John Denver gave the story behind some of his most famous songs - including
"This Old Guitar" which was written about a guitar that was lost and later found.
Of course, Elvis is featured in this gallery.  The last guitar he played was a C.F. Martin guitar that underwent serious
renovation before being put in the museum.  We visited the Martin Guitar Factory two years ago and have an appreciation for that detailed handy work.
These instruments from the Philipenes are
made of wicker.
Instruments are made out of just about every material imaginable.  In addition to the typical construction, materials of metal and wood, there are....gas cans, bones, cowhide, snake skin,

These are called "Afri-cans" named
after their country of origin.


Drums made from turtle shells.
And yes, playing water glasses is music; therefore, these are instruments. See mom and dad, I told you I had musical talent.  Only mine were beer glasses!
The galleries that fill the upstairs of this 200,000 square-foot complex represent five geographical regions around the world.  

Having visited Africa many times, we know how important music is to their culture.
The distinctive sound of the steel drum or "pan" is one of our favorites.  Maybe because it conjures up images of white sandy beaches and fruity drinks and a whimsical melody of Jimmy Buffet.
Slit drums common in the Oceanic countries.  They are solid pieces of wood hollowed out and struck with a wooden mallet on the side to make a distinctive sound.  Traditionally, slit drums were used to call islanders to church. 
My blog can not do this museum justice.  Betsy ranks it in her top five all-time best museums.  So there!  Now start booking your trip Scottsdale and enjoy the sounds of the world.

More photos....



The museum is modern , engaging, and entertaining. 
A pictorial explanation of how a piano comes together.
The Mechanical Music Gallery features a myriad of instruments that play themselves  (i.e.,calliopes)
A gigantic slit drum.  I really want one.

The Conservation Laboratory where restoration work is done.
The famous Fender "Stratocaster" Eric Clapton edition.
Hip hop was certainly included in the museum.
The "Voodoo Guitar" -  A Fender Telecaster that was found after Hurricane Katrina and rebuilt by Don Moser  as a "tribute to southern folk culture and African-influenced spirituality."

And now we are off to Quartzsite, Arizona for three days to attend what is dubbed the "largest gathering of RV'ers in the world." Oh Lord, what have we gotten ourselves into?

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