I was in Scottsdale over Memorial Day Weekend and I lucked out, the temps were in the high 80's and low 90's. Nothing like it was the week before or the week after.
One morning after having breakfast at the Royal Palms with a friend, I headed over to the MIM, the Musical Instrument Museum. Boy was I impressed! The large ceramic tile panels that covered the facade against the Arizona blue sky was magnificent.
Trip Advisor ranks the MIM the number one attraction in Phoenix! And it is the only museum of its kind in the world featuring musical instruments from all over the world.
The main floor is home to the Artist Gallery. The second floor includes exhibits for every country in the world. Each vignette features various instruments from that country, explanations on how they are made, played and how they are used in that culture. What I was particularly impressed with was with the top-notch audio and visual available. When you walk up to a vignette, the video screen will begin running, showing the musicians or music being played in their original cultural context. The music and sometimes commentary comes through on high-quality headphones. If you want to listen again, it will play over or if you have had enough, walk away and the screen goes black and the music stops.
I first toured the Artist Gallery. The exhibits included instruments, songs, vinyl records and record jackets, posters, stage outfits, props and excellent photos of many music icons such as John Lennon, Taylor Swift, Carlos Santana, Ray Orbison, Black Eyed Peas, Leonard Bernstein, Clara Rockmore, Pablo Casals, George Benson and many more.
I love the exhibit on Dick Dale who invented surf music in the late 1950's. Leo Fender, the pioneer of the electric-guitar, gave Dale a guitar. He was impressed that Dale who was left-handed turned the right-handed guitar upside down and backwards and started to play.
It was Dick Dales song, Miserlou, that was the theme song in the movie Pulp Fiction.
The Elvis Presley exhibit with his outfit, records, guitar and great photos.
On the video screen, the were scenes of Elvis in the movie Charro. A little trivia for you, this was the only movie in which he did not sing and he grew a beard for the part.
Its was Carlos Santana's performance at Woodstock in 1969 that made him an international star.
In 1970 John Lennon purchased a Steinway 2 Upright and composed "Imagine" based on a poem written by Yoko Ono promoting world peace.
In the Mechanical Music Gallery, listen to the 25 foot long, 2 ton Belgian-made Apollonia dance organ. Appropriately named for the female for Apollo, the Greek God of sun and music, the dance organ features sounds of accordions, percussion and hundreds of organ pipes.
There is the Experience Gallery where children and adults too can play a guitar, bang a gong, explore all types of different instruments.
The Conservation Lab.
Then up to the second floor to tour the Latin America Gallery.
With my love of Mexico, I was very impressed with the various vignettes on Mexican music, especially the area on mariachis. The traditional instruments include the button accordion, bajo quinto or bajo sexto (Mexican guitars strung in five or six courses), violins, tarola snare drum and tololoche bass.
This display features the Rampora frame drums, flutes and violins of the Raramuri (Tarahumara) Indians from the Copper Canyon area in northern Mexico. Tarahumaras are world renown for their long distance running abilities.
I was very impressed by the Recycled Orchestra. In Cateura, Paraguay, music teacher Favio Chavez was struggling with the lack of musical instruments. 2006 he put together a small group to sieve through the local landfill for material to construct an eensemblee of "recycled" instruments. Today there is a thriving music school and a youth orchestra that performs internationally!
Country music was created from diverse musical and cultural influences. The Grand Ole Opry helped spread the popularity.
Ramsey Recording Studio started out as a radio repair shop that eventually turned into a recording studio, called Audio Recorders. Not only did they record music that was heard all over the nation, my Dad, Bob Mullen, recorded many radio commercials for his clients here.
If you grew up in the valley in the 1950's to the late '80's, you had to have watched the Wallace & Ladmo Show! Their live music was something else and often was a parody of other musicians like the Beatles. Alice Cooper was inspired by Mike Condello.
The European wing represented every country imaginable. Spain's vignette featured the Flamenco music of Andulsia.
Other galleries include Asia, Oceania, Africa and the Middle East.
I had such a wonderful 2 1/2 hours at the museum. And I have barely scratched the surface on what the MIM has to offer.
Thanks can be made to Robert J. Ulrich (former CEO of Target) for having such passion and insight to be such a collector. It was the vision of Ulrich and his friend, Marc Felix, who came up with the concept for the museum after visiting the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels, Belgium. It truly was a one-of-a-kind experience and I found myself constantly smiling as I toured each vignette.
I am anxious to go back and spend more time listening to all the different venues.
MIM - Musical Instrument Museum
4725 E. Mayo Blvd.
(corner of Tatum and Mayo Blvd., just south of the Loop 101)