Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017
Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Saturday, October 14, 2017

I've Got the Music in Me! - Part 1, Wed., Oct. 4, 2017

Or..."The Day the Music Died" Came Alive!

Bob is in training for the San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in early December. At dawn, Bob was out running around Cave Creek Regional Park. He came back and showered. We were on our way to visit Bob's Aunt and Uncle, but I wanted to meet someone who worked at the park to say "hi" from Dave and Faye Malouf.  

We took a short drive to the Visitor Center at the park. I went in and met Ranger Dave. He has worked with Faye and Dave in the past and said he can't wait for them to arrive later in October. (They'll be working there again.)

Cave Creek Regional Park Visitor Center

Ranger Mark
Today was an awesome day. We had all day in Phoenix with no shortage of things to do. We started our day visiting with Skip and Sally at their beautiful home in Carefree, Arizona. 

Sally took us to see the early set up of Carefree's "Enchanted Pumpkin Garden." So far none of the beautifully carved pumpkins are out, but we did get to see the playfulness of the artist in what's already set up.

Free the pumpkins!
Pumpkin boxing ring
These scenes are set up around Carefree's Town Square area. Sally, Bob, and I walked around the town square. It's lovely with sculptures, fountains, playground, and an outdoor seating area.

Sculpture in the Carefree's Town Square
A pretty fountain area
Me and Bob (photo by Aunt Sally)
Aunt Sally with Bob
We then headed back to Skip and Sally's home to visit. They have all kinds of wildlife on their property and the common ground between the homes. I particularly like the quail. They are so cute.

Skip and Sally's place in Carefree
Lots of quail!
These quail are just outside their sliding glass door.
I'm glad I didn't scare them away.
Stalking their food. LOL.
Our visit with Skip and Sally was just about up. I was able to capture one fist bump between Bob and Uncle Skip. (Uncle Skip is undergoing chemotherapy so we can't have much physical contact.)

Uncle Skip and Bob fist bumping
We said our goodbyes and see ya next times. Our next adventure today is the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix. The last time we passed through, Aunt Sally raved to us about this museum. She told us it's a must-see. Today's the day!

I'm going to preface our museum experience today by saying that I love museums, but don't usually spend two days in one. The last time we went to a museum that we should have spent two days in, was the Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas. (We only spent one day and we were exhausted!) 

Suffice it to say, the MIM in Phoenix also offered a two-day admission. We had four hours total to spend this afternoon. It quickly became obvious that a two-day admission would be the way to go if we were to do this again.

Let me paint a picture for you of how overwhelming this museum is. First off, this museum has five curators who put the collections together. 

When you pay your admission, you are given a headset. Each artist or country area has a display of clothes/costumes, instruments, and video(s) with accompanying music. At each "area," your headset plays music or interviews with musicians. As you walk through the museum, your headset picks up the music for that area, so in the space of two minutes, if you're walking from one place to another, you could hear, three or more different types of music. It is a very aural experience!!

Good to start with a definition of sound
(They thought of everything.)
It was lunchtime, so we ate first in the museum's Allegro Cafe. It was good, but a bit expensive.

The MIM is laid out geographically (on the upper level). There are also rooms on the lower level: Target Gallery (for special exhibitions), Orientation Gallery (with a short orientation video), Artist Gallery (world-renowned musicians and musical innovators, i.e, Santana, Elvis Presley, Kronos Quartet, etc.), Mechanical Music Gallery (instruments that play on their own), Conservation Lab (where instruments are restored and preserved), and Experience Gallery (where you can play the instruments).

After lunch, we started on the first floor in the Orientation Gallery. We watched the slideshow and then gazed in wonder at the guitar room, and also a room with more obscure instruments.

Guitars, lutes, lyres
Lyre guitar (look at that face)
Rickenbacher "Vibrola"
(electric Spanish guitar)
The octobasse
The octobasse above was invented by French violin maker Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume and first exhibited at the 1849 French Industrial Exposition in Paris. Apparently, giant double basses date back as far as the early 17th century. Vuillaume's design is unique because it is played using a system of levers, activating a mechanism that pulls the strings against the frets. Of the three he made, two of these instruments survive today. MIM's octobasse is the only playable example in the Western Hemisphere.

The octobasse was intended not to double orchestral basses, but to play long sustained tones under them. The composer Berlioz wrote that "any festival orchestra with over 150 players ought to have at least three of them."

Below is the Paigu (goblet drum), the oldest object in MIM's collection, dating to the Neolithic period; a drumhead would have been tied to the hooks around the rim. This drum was used by the Yangshao people, Shaanxi Province, China, circa 4,000 BCE.
Paigu (goblet drum)
Next, we hit the Artist Gallery. Wowzers! This room alone took over an hour to go through. In the Artist Gallery, we found John Lennon, Taylor Swift, Elvis Presley, the Kronos Quartet, Dick Dale, Santana, John Denver, ceremonial drums from the Chinese Olympics Opening Ceremony, etc. What an introduction! Each artist had one to three pieces of music you could listen to. An aura of amazement hung over us. What have we gotten ourselves into?

MIM Artist Gallery highlights:

Chinese ceremonial drum
Video of Beijing Olympics opening ceremony
Such precision
Bob listening to Dick Dale surf music
I love Carlos Santana
History of cymbal making
Mechanical Music Gallery Highlights:

While we were in the Artist Gallery, an announcement was made that in the Mechanical Music Gallery they were going to demonstrate the Apollonia. Cool, I walked into the next room and waited for them to play it.

The Apollonia
Explanation of the Apollonia
Bob went outside to take a work call and I thought he was going to miss the Apollonia. He sauntered back in just before they started. I loved the huge "dance organ." It reminded me of roller skating to organ music in my youth. The Apollonias were used in dance halls and in traveling shows.

Since we were pretty much finished with the Artist Gallery, we stayed in the Mechanical Music Gallery and checked out orchestral music boxes, coin-operated music boxes, barrel organs, hand-cranked organs, and singing birds. The singing birds are like music boxes. You wind them up and the birds sing (such a pretty sound). 

The Xorgan (below), despite its compact size, is one of the loudest instruments in the collection.
Xorgan (barrel organ), Odessa, Ukraine
Pierement (mechanical organ)

Orchestral music box with Mandarin figures
striking bells
Bob kept saying, "We've got to go upstairs." We still had to go through the musical instruments for 200 countries and territories! We had about 2 hours left. Oh, my. 

Bob and I went separate ways. Bob wanted to start in the United States and Europe. I wanted to go more esoteric and exotic with instruments I wasn't familiar with. I started in Africa.

There isn't enough room in this blog to put in the many interesting things I saw and learned. So, here are some of the interesting items. You MUST go there and immerse yourself in the museum. You MUST! (I sound like Aunt Sally.)

Here we go...

Burkino Fasa

Xylophones amplified by gourds and
spider-egg casings (though paper and plastic
are now common substitutes)
Ghana: Ashanti and Fanti peoples

Ntan (mother drum of the Ashantis) and Ompe (footed drum of the Fantis).

Ntan and Ompe drums
Southern Sudan: Shilluk (Malakal people)

Tom (lyre)

Yaktaro (spike lute)
 South Korea: Court Music (The prettiest instruments)


Close up of the birds on top
O (scraper)
Mongolian instruments and costume
Ancient Vietnam:
Central Java: Shadow Puppets and Musical Storytelling

Shadow Puppets
Explanation of shadow-puppet theater
Central Java instruments
Time was quickly running out. Bob came and dragged me to the Europe and U.S. exhibits.


England (via southern Germany): 
A replica of the oldest extant keyboard instrument, a southern German clavicytherium.

Clavicytherium (harpsichord)
French/German/English?: The history is complicated and long
Naturhoorn (Nature horn)
Italy: Milan (Lombary region, circa 1900)

"Octochordis" mandolino lira
 European Street Festivals:

European street festivals
Explanation of street festivals
European Street Festivals
Costumed figures
Photo above: I don't know about you, but I could see someone wearing that big brown costume in the back and making people think they're Bigfoot!!

Hungary: Budapest

Kitorna (wheel fiddle)
In addition to the music, the instruments, the costumes, and the culture, there was a lot of fraudulent activity surrounding the authenticity of the instruments:

Cembalo (harpsichord), Italy
The cembalo above consists of an authentic soundboard placed within a fraudulent case -- possibly a combination of furniture parts and newly applied paint in a poor imitation of Baroque style.

There are also exhibits of the production of violins, and pianos.


United States:

Pianaccord (Denver, Colorado)
Reproducing Piano from Ampico
(American Piano Company)
Below is an explanation of the difference between a player piano and a reproducing piano. Who knew?

Reproducing piano
Instruments are not only functional but can be astonishingly beautiful as well!

I love the dragon-head design on this guitar!
Art on the back of a banjo
Miscellaneous stuff:
Drum set
Hip hop display
Ibanez triple-neck electric guitar played
by guitar virtuoso Steve Vai.
(The only one of its kind.)
Grand Harmonicon (We used to "play glasses"
at home. Crystal wine glasses worked best.)
The explanation below could be why the Harmonicon fell out of favor...

Lead poisoning??? Wow!
Alice Cooper
Large horns
Beautiful building
At the entry
The museum was closing so we had to exit the exhibits. The gift shop, however, stayed open an extra 15 minutes. So, we shopped. I got a souvenir pin of a black and white guitar for my collection.

For dinner, we are meeting Bob's cousin, Charis, at their home in Scottsdale. From there we will go out to eat. To be continued...


  1. I didn't think I'd be interested, but now I plan to visit it.

    1. Prepare to immerse yourself in music for hours. It's incredible.

  2. Thanks for giving Ranger Mark our message, we'll be there in just a few days. Thanks for the info on the museum, we have friends visiting this winter that would enjoy it.

    1. No problem. We're glad we found someone who knew you. (But I bet everyone who works there knows you!)

      The MIM is so fascinating, I don't see how anyone WOULDN'T like it!


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