Monday, August 18, 2008

Music and Museums

One part of culture that I feel that museums struggle to represent is
music. You might say - but music isn't meant for museums! It's meant
for concert halls, stages, cafes and venues of all kinds, but not the
dry silence of a museum. (It is kind of striking how it seems
everywhere you go - the grocery store, old navy, the elevator, the
dentist, Wal-mart, a soundtrack is pumping out, but museums are usually
dead quiet).

Cleveland's Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame tried to find a way to show and
represent music history, with mixed results. It's been criticized for
being overly commercial and vapid, and the building an eyesore.

A couple years ago I visited the Morgan Library and Museum in New
York, and on the top floor was an exhibition of priceless original
musical scores - the original handwritten sheet music by famous composers.
What the curators did was pair these scores with recordings and
headphones of the music performed by orchestras, so you could listen
and follow along. In some cases you could listen to several versions. There's something thrilling about getting inside the mind of a composer by seeing his handwritten notes and hearing the
music simultaneously.

How do you imagine music could be represented in a museum?
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1 comment:

Maureen Ward Doyle said...

I was struck by this "exhibit": at the Met. The instruments are beautiful & interesting, but there is no way to hear them. I was particularly keen to hear and see someone play some of the instruments that were new to me, because they were old or from different parts of the world.