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sogolon-puppet-theater

Video Series: Sogolon Puppet Theater
Sogolon is the puppet show and theatrical company created by Yaya Coulibaly in order to perpetrate and promote the Mali puppet tradition. The group's core mission is to contribute to develop and promote the Bamanan-Somono-Bozo puppet show.
Musical Instruments, Folklore, Music, World Cultures, Puppets, Africa

In the Studio

Video Series: In the Studio with Jason Moran
Join Jason Moran, the Kennedy Center’s Artistic Advisor for Jazz, in this video series as he explains the basics of Jazz music and how the art form works. He will show you how Jazz is more like skateboarding and football than you might think, and play some original pieces, as well as a few of the classic jazz standards.
America, Composers, Musical Instruments, Jazz, Music

Peking Opera

Video Series: China: Arts & Culture
This video series brings you a glimpse of the history and diversity of China's performing arts
China, Dance, Geography, Musical Instruments, Music, Puppets, Theater, World Cultures, Asia

Andes Manta

Video Series: Andes Manta
Andes Manta performs the vibrant music of the Andes on more than 35 traditional instruments. From the lyrical sound of the quena, or Andean Flute, to the haunting tones of the six-foot long pan-pipes, the music of Andes Manta is an experience that never fails to bring audiences to their feet.
Musical Instruments, Folklore, Latin America, Music, World Cultures, Nature

Joseph Bruchac

Video Series: Joseph Bruchac: The Flute and the Drum
Author and storyteller Joseph Bruchac explains the origin and significance of the flute and the drum to Native American culture.
Folklore, Music, World Cultures, Native America, Musical Instruments

Keith Bear

Video Series: Keith Bear, Flute-Maker
Musician, storyteller and flutemaker Keith Bear sheds light on the art and tradition of making flutes in the Native American tradition in this series of video clips.
Folklore, Music, World Cultures, Native America, Musical Instruments

hands on a djembe

Video Series: Haiti: Music & Culture
This video series brings you a glimpse of the music of Haiti
Geography, Musical Instruments, Music, World Cultures

Perfect Pitch

Flash Interactive: Perfect Pitch
Batter up! This multimedia exploration introduces students to the most enduring all-stars of the orchestra: the instruments.
Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra, Sports

swing bass

Audio Series: Swing! Swing! Swing!
Louis Armstrong said, “If you can’t feel Swing, you’ll never know it.” Well after hearing this pod-cast series, we’re sure you’ll feel it; we’re sure that you will swing. There was a time when Swing was the most popular dance music in America and the music is so important that it’s still alive today in dance halls, clubs and weddings all over the country. This four-part series explores and demonstrates Swing music in many of its forms (not just Swing Jazz, but Western Swing and Gypsy Swing) and shows you where the music came from and where it lives in America today. Our podcasts are narrated by Connaitre Miller of the award-winning group Afro-Blue at Howard University and features the voices of today’s major stars of Swing Music various styles
Music, Jazz, Music Legends, Musical Instruments

Sounds of China

Audio Series: Sounds of China
Chinese music dates back thousands of years and sounds different from Western music thanks to important differences in tone, musical scale, pitch, instrumentation and individual instruments.
Asia, China, Musical Instruments, Music, World Cultures

A Teenager With a Radio Microphone

Audio Series: D.I.Y. Old-Time Radio
After learning about the history of radio drama, use everyday items around your house to record your own.
Backstage, History, Innovators & Pioneers, Musical Instruments, Jobs in the Arts, Stunts & Special Effects

indian wind musician

Audio Series: Maximum India: The Music of India
The music of India is as diverse as its many cultures. India has over a billion people and hundreds of dialects and languages spread across the seventh largest country in the world, but there is still an undeniable “sound” that makes Indian music unmistakable. This 3-part audio series, hosted by PBS journalist Hari Sreenivasan, explores different aspects of Indian music: Indian musical instruments; the styles of music across India; and what makes Indian music unique—and where it is going
Geography, History, Musical Instruments, Music, World Cultures, India

A World of Music

Audio Series: A World of Music
We’re off on a Musical Tour of Europe! The invention of the orchestra hundreds of years ago meant bigger musical possibilities, and composers all across Europe were inspired to try their hand at pushing classical music to new limits
Composers, Controversial, Europe, Folklore, Geography, History, Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra

Summon the Heroes: Classical Music to the Rescue!

Audio Series: Summon the Heroes: Classical Music to the Rescue!
Throughout the ages, composers have celebrated the accomplishments of famous heroes through music. What does a hero sound like? Get ready to find out!
Composers, Folklore, Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra, Popular Culture, Movies & Movie Stars

Reach For The Moon: John F. Kennedy’s Vision and Courage

Audio Series: NSO Young People's Concert - Reach For The Moon
Just like President Kennedy had a vision for America, composers have visions of how they want their music to sound. For some, their musical mission is to explore a galaxy of stars and planets, moon shots, space walks, and galactic battles!
Composers, History, Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra, Technology, Space, Presidents

NSO YPC Exploring Extremes

Audio Series: Exploring Extremes: Music to the Max!
Join the NSO to explore music’s extremes—from high notes and low notes to how big or small instruments (and their sounds!) can be. Plus, get to know the “extremely talented” violin, and discover different ways of listening to music.
Composers, Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra

Audio Series: Listen Up! Music Is a Language
Did you know music has a lot to say? Without any words at all, music is a language that anyone can understand.
Composers, Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra, Language

Arabesque Podcast cover

Audio Series: Arabesque: Music of the Arab World
A 3-part audio series that explores different aspects of Arab music: the musical instruments of the Arab World; what makes Arab music unique; and the styles of music in the Arab World
Africa, Geography, History, Musical Instruments, Music, World Cultures

Greece

Audio Series: Music of Greece: Past is Present
Discover how incomplete fragments of papyrus and stone can provide clues to recreating music that has not been heard in thousands of years, explore the far-reaching influence that ancient Greece has had on modern music, and experience the numerous cultural and historical influences that have contributed to the music of today’s Greece.
Opera, Greece, History, Music, World Cultures, Musical Instruments

President's Own

Audio Series: Music in the Military
Music and musicians play an important role in military life. From the history of "Taps" to the importance of the USO, this series explores the place of ceremonial, tactical and recreational music in the US military.
Musical Instruments, Military, Music, Jobs in the Arts, America

Instrument Spotter's Guide Promo

Slideshow: Instrument Spotter's Guide
Learn to identify the strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion instruments that make up an orchestra
Musical Instruments, Orchestra, Music

Audio Slideshow: Beethoven: Listening to Symphony No. 9
Part 4 of the Beethoven Rocks series: Ode to Joy
Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra, History, Composers, Music Legends, Europe

Audio Slideshow: Beethoven: Listening to Symphony No. 6
Part 3 of the Beethoven Rocks series: The Pastoral
Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra, History, Composers, Music Legends, Europe, Nature

Audio Slideshow: Beethoven Rocks!
Part 1 of the Beethoven Rocks series: Get to know Classical music's biggest star
Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra, History, Composers, Music Legends, Europe

Audio Slideshow: Beethoven: Listening to Symphony No. 5
Part 2 of the Beethoven Rocks series: The Riff Heard ‘Round the World
Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra, History, Europe, Composers, Music Legends

US Air Force buglar Jari Villanueva

Audio: Ceremonial Brass
Musicians have always played an important part in the military. This series explores not only the history of military music, but also the diverse ceremonial and entertainment roles of musicians in the military.
Jobs in the Arts, Military, Music, America, Musical Instruments, History

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Rock Out
Turn up your favorite tunes and play the air guitar.
Rock & Roll, Music, Popular Culture, Physical Activity, Musical Instruments

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Frederic Chopin
"Nothing is more beautiful than a guitar, except, possibly, two."
Musical Instruments, Music, Music Legends, Composers, Europe

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Paul Hindemith
"People who make music together cannot be enemies, at least while the music lasts."
Europe, Composers, Musical Instruments, Music, Music Legends

Yo-Yo Ma

Arts Days: October 07, 1955: Cello’s Child Prodigy
Soon after a music professor began to teach his four-year-old to play the cello, he quickly realized his son was no ordinary music student. Later that year, the family immigrated to New York City in order for the young boy to continue his musical studies. At five, he began performing in public; at seven, he played for President Kennedy. Yes indeed, by all comparisons, Yo-Yo Ma was a pee wee cello prodigy.

Ma eventually enrolled at the Juilliard School, then went on to graduate from Harvard University. Today, Ma’s expressiveness and technical brilliance defies categorization. Tackling all kinds of music from classical to folk, baroque to bluegrass, Ma is believed to be the world’s premiere cellist.
Music, Music Legends, Musical Instruments, Presidents, Young Artists

B.B. King playing the guitar

Arts Days: September 16, 1925: The Thrill is Born
It’s been decades since B.B. King, the “King of Blues,” stood on a street corner playing for dimes. In 1947, he hitchhiked to Memphis to soak up the knowledge of other, more seasoned musicians and further hone his own sound. Just one year later, he got a chance to play on the radio, which led to regular jobs—and soon, a record deal.

King’s rich and expressive singing, coupled with his vocal-like string bends have made him a cherished example for every electric guitarist that has followed. He has made more than 50 records and was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor in 1995. While this reigning King can claim a long list of hits and awards, he is best associated with his 1970 classic, “The Thrill is Gone.”
Innovators & Pioneers, Music Legends, Blues, Musical Instruments, Music

Charlie Parker

Arts Days: August 29, 1920: Rare Bird
As a musician who could improvise jazz and blues music on the fly, Charlie “Bird” Parker has few equals. With his alto saxophone and his deep reservoir of talent, Parker thrilled listeners with his playing on tunes like “Ko-Ko” and “Billie’s Bounce.”

He was one of the leading developers of bebop, a jazz form featuring four or five musicians, fast tempos, and jagged-sounding, complex melodies. He also crafted new ways of playing long solos that shattered the usual conventions. For example, he experimented with creating melodies using higher intervals of a chord than had traditionally been played.
America, Jazz, Music, Music Legends, Musical Instruments

Itzhak Perlman

Arts Days: August 31, 1945: A Violin Virtuoso
Violin superstar Itzhak Perlman’s musical genius has brought new appreciation of both the delicacy and power of the instrument to legions of listeners.

After studying violin at New York’s Julliard School, young Perlman made his Carnegie Hall debut at the tender age of 18. He often performs solo, other times in small ensembles—such as the group playing at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama in January 2009.

Either way, it is this virtuoso’s sheer love of music—be it classical, baroque, romantic, or modern—coupled with his flawless technique that caused a critic from The New Yorker to write that Perlman’s playing was “everything one wants a violin sound to be.”
Musical Instruments, Music, Music Legends

Louis Armstrong playing the trumpet

Arts Days: August 04, 1901: Horn of Plenty
The great trumpeter Louis Armstrong soaked up all the pains and joys of a young man growing up poor and unequipped yet possessing an extraordinary musical talent. These emotions can be clearly heard in the jazz music he grew up to both play and sing.

There's little doubt that Armstrong was the most gifted and influential trumpet soloist in the history of the instrument. His innovations included playing high notes that had never been hit before, and holding these notes for long periods of time; creating vibrato or trembling sounds with his lips; and experimenting with rhythm to make music move, or "swing."

Armstrong's combination of singing and playing (both trumpet and cornet), plus his larger-than-life personality, made him one of the world's greatest and most memorable solo entertainers.
America, Jazz, Music, Music Legends, Innovators & Pioneers, Musical Instruments

Steve Martin

Arts Days: August 14, 1945: A Wild and Crazy Guy
Perhaps “zany” is the perfect word to describe this funny Renaissance man who juggles like a pro, dances with happy feet, and plays a mean banjo like no ordinary country star. Steve Martin’s goofy comedy stunts—from wearing a fake arrow through his head to twisting together balloon animals during his show—have endeared him to countless fans.

Even with a white-hot standup career propelled to new heights by his work on “Saturday Night Live,” Martin tried acting, with lead roles in hilarious films like The Jerk, Roxanne, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, among others. In recent years, he’s branched out: writing short stories and plays and appearing regularly with the bluegrass band, Steep Canyon Rangers.
Comedy, America, Musical Instruments, Movies & Movie Stars

Rockband

Arts Days: November 20, 2007: Band Aid
First issued for Xbox and PlayStation, this video game lets players indulge in their rock and roll fantasies. Each player is rated on his or her ability to play music notes accurately using peripherals, or devices shaped like drums, guitars, and microphones. The game knows and alerts you when you’re singing off key or falling behind in tempo on the “drum kit.”

A team of players can form a band and compete together, earning points collectively against another team. Rock Band is not just a lot of fun to play, but it's helped expand people’s interest in learning to sing and play actual instruments. So, dream on because you never know, today’s Rock Band players may be tomorrow’s newest rock stars.
Inventions, Rock & Roll, Musical Instruments, Music, Popular Culture

Robert Johnson

Arts Days: November 27, 1936: Deal with the Devil
Revered amongst blues musicians and rock stars alike, Robert Johnson lived a life far too short to accommodate his ample talent. What’s more, there are few, if any, letters or other documents to give us a clear picture of the man. One thing is for sure: When the 25-year-old recorded this song, he fueled a powerful legend with which his name has long been associated.

Some say the song is about a pact Johnson made with the devil to give up his soul at a metaphorical crossroads in exchange for his amazing blues guitar skills. But other historians point out that the song is actually about the dangers a black man faces, walking alone after dark in the Deep South of the early 20th century, when the horrors of lynching were all too common.
Music Legends, Blues, Music, America, Musical Instruments, Folklore

Louis Armstrong

Arts Days: July 08, 1922: When Satchmo Went North
Born in New Orleans, Louis Armstrong was a trumpeter who profoundly influenced the development of jazz music, both with his instruments as well as with his gravelly, instantly recognizable voice.

With the encouragement of his mentor Joe “King” Oliver, Armstrong left the south, joining thousands of other young African Americans in search of better job prospects in Chicago. As people secured work, they found they had money to spend in their free time—and they would often go listen to music.

In jazz clubs around the city, Armstrong’s star was on the rise. He played with Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band and musicians in New York, and then returned to Chicago to make his first recordings. Far from home, Armstrong blazed a trail countless other musicians would one day follow.
Innovators & Pioneers, Music Legends, Jazz, Music, Musical Instruments

Frederick Chopin

Arts Days: March 01, 1810: Mr. Piano Man
Imagine writing complicated pieces of music when you are only seven years old. Someone who can do that—like Frederick Chopin—is called a prodigy, someone who at a young age displays amazing skills in music, art, or something else.

Chopin developed new ways of playing the piano that today are at the heart of what we call “Romantic music”—the term given to expressive, complex music written in Europe in the mid-19th to early 20th centuries.

Chopin also was known for his gifts at improvising where he would make up new combinations of notes in the course of playing something he had written already. Chopin’s last public performance took place in London in November 1848 where he played for fellow Polish refugees.
Composers, Musical Instruments, Music, Music Legends, Europe

Mississippi John Hurt

Arts Days: March 08, 1892: Guitar Hero
Not long after the nine-year-old John Smith Hurt picked up his first guitar, he was in demand at barn dances. His style of playing is called finger-picking, which means the strings are plucked using fingers, not a guitar pick, and that the thumb provides the steady bass rhythms on the lower strings.

Hurt was an excellent self-taught player who went on to make several blues and old-time recordings for Okeh Records (which gave him his nickname); but when the Great Depression drove the record label out of business, Hurt returned to Mississippi and worked on farms, playing occasionally at parties.

But a musicologist named Tom Hoskins loved Hurt’s records so much that he tracked him down in Mississippi decades later, persuaded him to come back north and play a few shows, including the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The second act of his musical career began from here.
America, Blues, Music Legends, Music, Musical Instruments

Ron McNair

Arts Days: February 03, 1984: Rocket Man
Who knew astronaut Ron McNair, one of the first African Americans ever to be accepted into NASA’s Space Shuttle program, excelled at a wide variety of things, including science and sports?

McNair was an expert on laser physics, an accomplishment that helped him land a place on the Space Shuttle Challenger’s 1984 mission. You remember, this was the craft that hurtled into space to deploy satellites and handle other research and communications tasks.

On this day, McNair—an accomplished jazz saxophonist—played his instrument in space to the delight of NASA colleagues listening at Mission Control. Sadly, McNair and six others would perish in the next, ill-fated Challenger deployment, which took place on January 28, 1986.
Music, Space, Musical Instruments, Innovators & Pioneers

King David Kalakaua

Arts Days: February 12, 1874: The King of Aloha
Before Hawaii became America’s 50th state, it was a monarchy ruled by King David Kalakaua I. Kalakaua is credited with helping to revive and support Hawaiian art forms like hula dancing; instruments like the ukelele; and martial arts, like Lua.

You see, some religious missionaries on the Islands thought these activities were improper. They had spent years before Kalakaua was elected to the throne trying to suppress various elements of Hawaiian culture, including its languages and art customs—even surfing!

But Kalakaua believed that these traditions and activities were important for native Hawaiians to learn, enjoy, and share with others to help keep Hawaii’s unique cultural history alive.  For his efforts, he was nicknamed “the Merrie Monarch.”
Dance, America, Geography, History, Musical Instruments, Music, Folklore, World Cultures

Player Piano

Arts Days: June 14, 1881: A Do-It-Yourself Piano
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, John McTammany, Jr. secured a patent for his “mechanical musical instrument,” a piano that was capable of reading the musical notes on thick rolls of paper and playing songs all by itself. Typically, the “autopiano,” as it was also known, had to have a way for air to move through it and for small pegs called hammers to strike the keys at the appropriate times.

While McTammany believed he had invented the “player” part of the piano, he didn’t take credit for the whole thing. In fact, many people over the 19th and 20th centuries had contributed bits of knowledge toward the progression in the instrument.
Inventions, Musical Instruments, Music

Adolphe Sax

Arts Days: May 17, 1846: The Sax Man
Belgian-born Adolphe Sax not only played musical instruments, he invented new ones, too. When he was 15, he made and musically mastered his own flutes and clarinets, even entering them in contests. Only a few years later, a kind of bugle he created laid the groundwork for a new family of instruments called the saxhorns.

The saxophone that bears his name proved to be the pinnacle of his ingenuity. Designed for use in orchestras and concert bands, Sax envisioned it as a woodwind instrument similar to the clarinet and played with a mouthpiece composed of a single reed (a thin strip of material that vibrates inside an instrument to create its distinctive sound). Inventing this new instrument gave Sax greater credibility among musicians and teachers of music.
Inventions, Musical Instruments, Music

Hammond Organ

Arts Days: April 24, 1934: The First Organ Transplant
When an American inventor named Laurens Hammond demonstrated an organ without pipes on this day, musicians like George Gershwin were skeptical (though Gershwin bought one anyway). No one could quite believe that a pipeless electric organ could produce the majestic sounds of the pipe organ that had dominated church services and musical events for centuries. However, once Hammond’s organ was played, the skeptics grew silent.

Using a complex series of magnets, coils, and gears deep inside the console of the instrument, Hammond had created a new instrument capable of all the melodic richness of the pipe organ but in a much smaller size. The price couldn’t be beat, either—$1,250 compared to $4,000 and up for traditional organs, which used air pumped into the pipes by the organist to create their sound.
Musical Instruments, Music, Math, Inventions

Muddy Waters

Arts Days: April 04, 1915: The Father of Chicago Blues
While growing up in the deep South, Muddy Waters dabbled with the harmonica, but it was when he started learning to play the blues guitar that things really got cooking. Waters basically invented a whole new type of blues music, called “Chicago Blues” named for the city where he made his biggest mark. His unique performing style combined country blues with rock and roll electrification. He sang about hard times in the Mississippi Delta, heartbreak, and other subjects.

The “bottleneck” style of guitar playing that Waters mastered was more commonly known as slide guitar. It was dubbed so because Waters slid a piece of glass (sometimes from a bottle, hence the name) or other material against the strings. This created a whole new range of sounds for Waters. In Waters’ case, this sort of playing almost made the instrument an extension of his singing voice, complete with growls, slurs, and screeches.
Blues, America, Musical Instruments, Music Legends, Music

Night Train 57

Cuesheet: Night Train 57: A Sensory-Friendly Folk Opera
All aboard the Night Train! Enter the freewheeling musical world of Grammy® winner Dan Zanes, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Claudia Eliaza, and more special guests for an interactive folk opera that takes audiences on a far-out ride to the galaxies and back. During a joyous dusk-to-dawn trip through the stars, passengers on Night Train 57 will discover the power of friendship and community with the sounds of 21st century handmade sing-along music.
Theater, Music, Musical Instruments, Accessibility

Bernstein! Inside the Music

Multimedia Series: NSO Young People's Concert - Bernstein! Inside the Music
As an equally-famous conductor, composer, and musician, Leonard Bernstein not only conducted music by the world’s greatest composers, he also wrote many important works for orchestras.
Composers, History, Musical Instruments, Music, Orchestra, Music Legends

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