Friday, 24 June 2011

Rock and stroll - Cité de la Musique

With only 2 days left before my 26th birthday I finally managed to get out to the visit the Cité de la Musique. This Museum is not as central as the rest and is located in the 19th Arrondisment in the Park de la Villette, this however is a bonus as it allows me to take my favourite route along the canal to get to the museum.
Arriving to the the museum the entrance is clearly posted and is actually incorporated into one of Bernard Tschumi's  red “folly's”. When you enter the space you are instantly impressed by the size of the space. 

After getting my free ticket I proceeded through the music shop to the start of the exhibition. Clearly a question that had come to my mind before attending the museum was how do they exhibit something visually, that can really only really be experienced by listening, without having a series of clashing speakers blaring out random sounds in an effort to compete with each other. Well the solution was actually easier than I imagined. This museum provides every one with a audio guide, this guide has headphones and allows you to key in a number beside displays, screens and instruments. This allows you to synchronise up to the relevant TV screen and listen to the opera being performed, the historical background of the instrument, interviews and you can even listen to individual instruments being played.

The museum itself has a large collection of very ornate and old instruments and as you slowly wind your way up to though the different ages it becomes very interesting to learn when and how new instruments that we now take for granted were invented and introduced to the public, as well as seeing instruments that are now nearly obsolete.
triple guitars?

The day we were there was very quiet but there was still a live demonstration by a very talented man on the trombone. He explained the instrument how it worked and how he created the different sounds, as well as playing some very good music.

Arriving into the final space is the most impressive as this is housed in the topmost roof space.

This space also starts to chronicle the development of modern recording and mixing techniques, and has a good selection of early mixing desks which now seem so large and cumbersome that its funny. However the museum does only have a limited amount of stuff about the development of modern music, as it seems to concentrate mainly on the classical side, which is a shame as it hardly acknowledges the development of rock punk techno. But then I suppose you would need an entire other museum to properly chronicle the development of music in the last 100 years. 

The final displays deal with instruments from different cultures such as India Africa and China, these sections are quite small though but still impressive.
Only after exiting the museum  did I see the sectional model and realise that there is actually a entire theatre music space located just beside the museum, and that is why the entire building is called the Cité de la Musique. Next time I visit I plan on seeing a performance.
the museum is the small narrow part on the left of the auditorium

Otherwise the museum was very enjoyable even for someone who has no grounding in music and does not play any instruments it was very basically and easily explained. The museum is also much larger than I thought and as a result my audio guide ran out of battery in the last portion of the museum. With lots of bicycle parking located in the park de la Villette right outside I would recommend going for a picnic with some friends before heading in.

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