Sunday, February 15, 2015


Yesterday we visited the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix & were overwhelmed. We saw maybe a quarter of it, but it was only our first time there. We kind of grazed thru the African & Mideastern rooms 4 a couple hours, then took a cursory look at the rest.
Here's a shot of the section of wall devoted 2 a Yoruba masquerade (carnival?). The Yoruba live on the landward corner at the bottom of West Africa's bulge, today part of Nigeria. The display is typical of the Museum's set-up -- a ritual costume and a plethora of instruments, and best of all, each  features a monitor playing a tape loop which shows the instruments in the display being played, in ensembles and by soloists. You're wearing headphones and quickly become immersed in the music and the sight of the instruments.

Turkey gets a comprehensive treatment, with an urban wall (left) and a rural space on the right. The dress looks like the one the Dervishes wear, but it might just as easily be a female costume. Even tho I read all the descriptions, I can't remember what any of them said. I think it's called "Sensory overload."

Some of the most rhythmically complex, passionate, and inspiring music in the world comes from the Balkans, and you can hear several exuberant samples at Bulgaria's space, in the Mideast section if I remember. The bagpies made from half-goatskins are beautiful to look at, and the eerie sound they make frightens some. Bulgars, Romanians, Albanians, & others in the region sometimes play goat bags with 2 pipes, enabling highly-skilled musicians to play real counterpoint.

Speaking of double spout bapipes, I can't sign off tonite without showing you this thing, played with a bellows. I'm not sure how many hands it takes to operate this monster, and don't remeber where I saw it, although I'm reasonably certain it was somewhere in the Balkans.

Click on these little thumbnails 2 C the pix in full size.

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