The Musical Instrument Museum Revisited

The Musical Instrument Museum Revisited

You might know that the MIM is one of my favorite places on earth. (See previous posts about the MIM here, here, and here.) A world-class museum located in Phoenix, it contains an extensive collection of thousands of instruments. So when my brother Bill visited from New Jersey last month, I made sure I took him to the MIM.

Here are some of the things we saw:


Taylor Swift’s piano.

Instruments from Africa, some with exquisite carving (click on any to scroll through enlargements and see my captions):

From Asia:

And the Middle East:

We also saw lots of xylophones, but I used those pictures for a post on April 28, 2016.

We didn’t even get to Europe and North and South America. Oh, well, Bill. You’ll have to visit again so we can see the rest of the museum.

My brother and I are rocking out in the Experience Gallery:



Sculpture Saturday: Musical Instruments as Sculpture


I think these instruments at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix qualify as sculpture:


Dramnyen (plucked lute)


Detail of head carving


Slit drums


Tlalpanhuehuetl, Aztec drum (this one made in the 20th century)


Baryton (bowed and plucked lute), Austria


Detail of head carving

More Sculpture Saturday.

Sculpture Saturday: Slit Drum


Found at the Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, Arizona:


Slit drum.


Detail of slit drum.


Detail of slit drum.

See more Sculpture Saturday.

MIM Again

MIM Again

In April, my daughter, Carly, visited from Brooklyn, New York. She mentioned she’d like to go to the MIM.

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix is one of my favorite places in the world. I’ve been there at least five times since in opened in 2010. I’ve written other posts about The MIM.

Here are some of the sights we saw on our visit (click on the smaller pictures to enlarge and reveal captions):

The mariachi exhibit:




tapa from Oceania, a textile made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree:


Grand piano made for Czar Nicholas I of Russia:


Pretty cool, huh?

What about you? Have you been to MIM, or to another musical instrument museum? (I know there’s another in Paris, and maybe elsewhere.) Share in the comments below.



My offering for the One Word Photo Challenge:Inlaid marble floor at the foot of a circular staircase at the MIM

This inlaid stone floor lies at the foot of a spiral staircase at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.

Video of the Day: O is for Octobass

Video of the Day: O is for Octobass

For those of you in the Phoenix area, there’s an octobass at the Musical Instrument Museum.


G is for Garbage: The Story of the Landfill Harmonic

G is for Garbage: The Story of the Landfill Harmonic

You may have heard of the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, Paraguay. This YouTube video, posted in 2012, has been viewed almost seven million times:

Cateura is the site of a huge garbage dump. The 2500 families who live there make a living by scavenging the dump for materials they can sell.

All of their need come from discards. Even their homes are built from garbage.

Favio Chavez, an environmental engineer employed by the dump, observed thousands of children who lived their lives surrounded by garbage. And drugs.

Wanting to provide a ray of hope, Chavez volunteered to teach kids to play musical instruments. He started with a number of donated instruments, which quickly ran out.

Chavez justly gets credit for his vision. He must be an accomplished musician, but I was unable to find any information about his background. For sure, he is an excellent and inspiring teacher, as evidenced by the accomplishments of his students.

And the children! Their dedication to practice shows in the way their performances shine.

A documentary about the orchestra, called Landfill Harmonic, came out in 2016:

In my opinion, the unrecognized angel of the orchestra is Nicola Gomez. A carpenter by trade, “Don Cola” Gomez is who Chavez turned to when he needed more instruments for his students. Could he fashion some violins from materials from the landfill?

Gomez had never seen or heard a violin before. But somehow, he made one out of baking sheets, pallet wood, a fork, and old wires. And then he made some more. Soon, he branched out to other kinds of instruments. Trumpets made from drainage pipes. Drums with x-ray film heads.

Amazingly, despite the humble materials he used to build the instruments, they sound remarkably good. It’s not easy to hand-make instruments that will play in tune with other instruments. Especially without specialized training. The man is an acoustical genius.

60 Minutes produced this segment about the Recycled Orchestra:

I recently visited the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, and some of the Cateura instruments are on display there (click on the small pictures to enlarge and read captions):

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: Clown

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: Clown

Sorry, it’s a little blurry, but that raises the creepiness factor. This is a mechanical clown in the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.


I hereby submit it for my entry in Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge.

X is for Xylophone.

X is for Xylophone.

So, I’m guessing a lot of the bloggers participating in the A to Z Challenge will be posting about xylophones today. I’m looking forward to visiting a bunch.

Most people, when they hear the word xylophone, probably picture something like this:


Photo by Olivier Colas

and know it sounds something like this:

And a whole segment of society (Orff-Schulwerk trained teachers and their elementary school students) visualizes something like this:


and expects them to sound like this:

(To be accurate, the above ensemble also includes glockenspiels and metallophones.)

The xylophone is a musical instrument consisting of wood bars struck by mallets. It is ancient, at least 1500 years old, and it originated in Africa or possibly southeast Asia; or perhaps developed in multiple locations.

Last month, my brother Bill visited me from New Jersey, and I took him to the incredible Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. While we were there, I took photographs of as many xylophones (and xylophone-type instruments) as I could, knowing I would need them for this article. (Click on any image below to scroll through enlargements.)

One of my favorite pieces of music featuring the xylophone is Fossils, from Camille Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals.

If you have not yet had your full of xylophones today, watch the delightful concert below.

A2Z-BADGE 2016-smaller_zpslstazvib

Video of the Week #5

Video of the Week #5

Hawaiian slack key guitar. I have had the pleasure of seeing Makana perform in person at the Musical Instrument Museum.