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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

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

Sphinx Virtuosi

2700 F St.: Sphinx Virtuosi: Performance/Demonstration
This amazing, conductorless chamber orchestra is known for showcasing a tremendous variety of styles. The ensemble has caused a major, positive shift in the landscape of chamber artists, with programs delighting young and new audiences as much as seasoned listeners.
Music, Musical Instruments, Young Artists

Let's Remix The Classix!

Cuesheet: NSO Family Concert: Let's Remix The Classix!
What would the classics sound like with a Hip Hop beat? How about as a mashup with some cool rockin’ rhythms? Find out when the NSO reunites with Grammy®-nominated beatboxer and multi-instrumentalist Christylez Bacon and wildly original electric cellist/composer Wytold for a crash course in the fundamentals of remixing! Through beatboxing, improvising, and other creative techniques, these D.C. favorites take inspiration from Pachelbel's Canon, Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, Bernstein's West Side Story, and other masterpieces featured everywhere from movies to TV to weddings—and make them completely their own.
Music, Musical Instruments, Hip-Hop, Composers

The String Thing

Cuesheet: NSO Music for Young Audiences: The String Thing
ATTENTION: kids, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, rubber chickens... but especially kids and rubber chickens! Step right up to this daring double act of classical fun! Bassist Paul DeNola and violinist Heather LeDoux Green take a break from the NSO to introduce young audiences to some of the greatest music ever written. You’ll never hear a word out of them during the concert, but with instruments in hand and a trunk full of gags, this “silent” comedic tag-team presents a hilarious program of music and mayhem.
Music, Musical Instruments, Composers

Two Divas & a Bear

Cuesheet: NSO Music for Young Audiences: Two Divas and a Bear
What happens when you bring together a concert violinist, an opera singer, and everyone’s favorite stuffed animal? You get Two Divas and a Bear! Join NSO violinist Marissa Regni and soprano Kari Paludan as they explore the human voice. As it turns out, the violin has a voice, too! As you listen to Schubert’s The Trout, Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise, and Rossini’s Two Cats, you’ll discover that the strings of the violin are very similar to our very own vocal cords.
Music, Musical Instruments, Composers, Animals

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

A Sleepy Hollow-een

Cuesheet: NSO Family Concert: Halloween Spooktacular
When is it ever cool to “boo” the orchestra? On Halloween, of course! But watch out, because at this frightfully fun concert, ghoulishly attired musicians might “BOO” you from behind their instruments in return.
Music, Musical Instruments

NSO YPC: Inside the Music

Cuesheet: NSO Young People's Concert: Orchestra Look-In: NSO! Inside the Music
The NSO continues in the spirit of a series of Young People’s Concerts made popular by Leonard Bernstein at Carnegie Hall. Michael Butterman conducts this delightful performance that explores all of the pieces that come together to create an orchestra, and demonstrates that it can be accessible to everyone. The concert includes well-known works by Brahms, Copland, and Tchaikovsky, and introduces students to Jessie Montgomery, a living composer keeping the orchestra music alive and vibrant. The NSO along with Conductor Michael Butterman and NSO Assistant Principal 2nd Violinist Marissa Regni are joined onstage by an unexpected guest who is just as ecstatic about the orchestra as they are.
Music, Musical Instruments

Halloween Spooktacular

Cuesheet: NSO Family Concert: Halloween Spooktacular
An annual tradition! The Concert Hall transforms into a ghostly sight when the NSO performs new and old classics to celebrate Halloween, which this year also marks the Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) with our ghoulishly attired musicians. Arrive early for trick-or-treating and a special Haunted Hall Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo.” Age 5+
Music, Musical Instruments

Star Wars: A New Hope

2700 F St.: Star Wars: NSO Open Rehearsal
Experience the classic original film in the Concert Hall! Join Luke, Leia, and Han Solo on their epic journey as the NSO’s performance of John Williams’s Oscar®-winning score takes the music to new heights, from the bustling Cantina scene to the foreboding trumpets echoing Darth Vader’s first appearance. Note that as this is a rehearsal, there may be starting and stopping throughout.
Science Fiction & Fantasy, Movies & Movie Stars, Musical Instruments, Orchestra

Timbalooloo Live

Cuesheet: Timbalooloo Live
Explore the thrilling language of instruments! Grammy Award®–winning clarinetist and composer Oran Etkin and his band use games, stories, songs, and movement to teach children rich musical and cultural heritage. Instruments speak through music in this interactive, immersive concert for young audiences. Grammy Award®–winning clarinetist and composer Oran Etkin and his band use games, stories, songs, and movement to teach children rich musical and cultural heritage. Examining sounds from Mozart to Willie Nelson to Herbie Hancock, children will explore how music is as unique and magical as their own imagination.
Music, Musical Instruments

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

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

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

Landfillharmonic

Video: Music from the Trash Heap
The people of Cateura struggle with poverty, pollution, and other problems. However, the Cateura Orchestra of Recycled Instruments inspires the youth there to find hope in music.
Latin America, Musical Instruments, Inventions, Music, Young Artists, Orchestra

Oki Dub

Video: Oki Dub
Oki is the world's most prominent performer of the tonkori, a long, flat instrument that produces its own distinct sound and is the only stringed instrument in the Karafuto Ainu musical tradition. Oki’s contemporary approach has won him praise in Japan and around the world.
Asia, Music, Musical Instruments, World Cultures, Japan

Palestinian musician

Video: Palestinian Jazz
Palestinian and Moroccan musicians perform on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, which offers free shows 365 days a year as part of the Performing Arts for Everyone initiative. See how the musicians go from a sound check to actual performance.
World Cultures, Jazz, Musical Instruments, Music, Young Artists

Ralph Stanley

Video Series: Ralph Stanley: The Roots of Country Music
Learn about the beginnings of country music and its early innovators through the stories and music of three of country music's most respected musicians: mountain music legend Dr. Ralph Stanley, Jim Lauderdale and James Shelton.
America, Musical Instruments, Music, Music Legends

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

Tambuco Percussion

Video Series: Tambuco Percussion
Among the finest percussion quartets today, the musicians of the three-time Grammy-nominated ensemble refuse to be tied down to one style, with a repertoire ranging from structuralist percussion music to a wide range of ethnic drum music and avante garde sound interpretation.
Musical Instruments, Folklore, Latin America, Music, World Cultures

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