On Monday, April 16th, I took a trip with my folks (visiting from New York) to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, AZ. You can check out my original post on The Woodwind Forum.
I’m not a camera guy and several of the pics I took just didn’t come out at all. Fortunately, for this website at least, the pictures that were b0rked were various keyboards and African “thumb pianos.” The below galleries are what I had left — and they’re resized a bit (each original pic is appx. 3mb). They were taken by me on my wife’s Nikon D5000 camera with some sort of adjustable lens thingy that I kept set at “35mm.”
Click on a thumbnail for a bigger pic and some of my pithy commentary.
What I liked:
- Free concert. I didn’t go to it, but they had folks standing at the entrance telling everyone about it. They have fee-based concerts, too — and some big names.
- Awful lot of content. After I hit the woodwinds, I went pretty fast through the rest of the exhibits and it still took 2 hours.
- Good amount of stuff for the money (see above).
- There were an awful lot of empty display areas. At least 30.
- I was given a nice headphone set that would play stuff as I approached an exhibit. Unfortunately, I heard very, very little about the history and use of the instruments and more of how the instruments sounded. That wouldn’t necessarily be bad, but a lot of those instruments were being played with OTHER instruments, so I couldn’t always tell how a specific instrument sounded. I took off the headphones after about an hour.
- Awful lot of emphasis on modern music/performers, particularly guitar players. Also, while I think it’s great that some guy I never heard of before donated a sax to your exhibit, it’s still a Yamaha YAS-21 student horn.
What I really disliked:
- A lot of the instruments were 20th or 21st century reproductions. I can understand the why — cost — but reproduction instruments just strike me as … not very authentic.
- A LOT of instruments were in very bad repair. I make some comments about this in the galleries, below. In some instances, there is absolutely no excuse: a silver-plated horn with a ton of tarnish. Buy a bottle of non-abrasive silver polish for $5 and get a rag. It won’t take you that long. Strings broken or missing? Replace ’em!
- I had taken some pictures of instruments made out of “found” objects (in this case, read that as “trash”: coffee cans, bottle caps, etc.). There was no mention in any of the exhibits on how these found objects have been incorporated into the manufacture of indigenous peoples’ instruments and how that may have changed things.
- There was quite a bit of poor scholarship. I note, in the below pics, a saxophone stamped “1866” that the museum’s description card says is from 1864 and that they say a Conn-O-Sax is patented in 1914. As mentioned on the WF, you might think this is nit-picky, but if I was able to spot a couple problems in just my field of expertise, there could be lots and lots of other things throughout the museum that are mislabeled.
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