Musical History

An intercontinental ballistic missile takes flight from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in 2002. In 1962, the United States would confront the Soviet Union on its missile stockpiles in Cuba, edging the two nations to the brink of nuclear war.

History of Now

'Do You Hear What I Hear?' Conjures Images of Peace Everywhere—and Nuclear Annihilation

Composed at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the classic Christmas song contains another message—one of unity

Brown was known as the Godfather of Soul and the Hardest Working Man in Show Business.

James Brown's Estate Has Sold After 15-Year Dispute

The estimated $90 million deal will go mostly toward a scholarship fund for children from South Carolina and Georgia

Bob Dylan, One Too Many, 2020

See Bob Dylan's Cinematic Paintings, Welded Sculptures and More

A comprehensive collection of the iconic songwriter's visual art is on display for the first time in the United States

Swift's extended version of "All Too Well" surpassed the length of the previous record holder, Don McLean's 8-minute, 42-second "American Pie (Parts I and II)."

Trending Today

Taylor Swift Sets Record for Longest No. 1 Song, Beating Out 'American Pie' and the Beatles

The pop star's 10-minute, 13-second rerecording of "All Too Well" debuted at the top spot in Billboard's Hot 100 chart

Ary Scheffer, The Ghosts of Paolo and Francesca Appear to Dante and Virgil, 1835

Before Romeo and Juliet, Paolo and Francesca Were Literature's Star-Crossed Lovers

Centuries after Italian poet Dante published "The Divine Comedy," Romantic artists and writers reimagined the tragedy as a tale of female agency

The Surprising Artistic Life of Ancient Sparta

Poets and lyricists populated the Greek civilization

Throughout the project, Beethoven’s genius loomed.

How Artificial Intelligence Completed Beethoven's Unfinished Tenth Symphony

On October 9, the work will be performed in Bonn, Germany, and a recording will be released

The 39-foot-long violin is made out of around 12 different kinds of wood.

Why a String Quartet Set Sail on a Giant Violin in Venice's Grand Canal

Local artist Livio De Marchi views the wooden replica as a symbol of the Italian city's rebirth following Covid-19

Breakup albums take listeners through the stages of a breakup much like the stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

The Heart-Wrenching History of the Breakup Album

From Joni Mitchell's 'Blue' to Olivia Rodrigo's 'Sour,' love and loss has an ever evolving soundtrack

A flag in New York City's Times Square marks MTV's 40th birthday.

At 40, MTV Is Officially Over the Hill

Born in 1981, the network soon grew to include reality TV and the VMAs. But nothing compares to its glory days of 24/7 music videos

Buildings in New Orleans' historic French Quarter, pictured here, sustained damage when Hurricane Ida made landfall on Sunday.

Hurricane Ida Destroys New Orleans Jazz Landmark Dubbed Louis Armstrong's 'Second Home'

The historic Karnofsky Tailor Shop and Residence collapsed on Sunday after water pooled on its roof

The Smithsonian Anthology of Hip Hop and Rap tracks the evolution of the genre from its music to its culture and to its people. "Everything that is part of hip-hop," says the Smithsonian's Dwandalyn Reece, curator of music and performing arts.

Chronicling Hip-Hop's 45-Year Ascendance as a Musical, Cultural and Social Phenom

The groundbreaking box set "Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap" features 129 tracks, liner notes and an illustrated 300-page compendium

The worn hands and nubby fingernails of Bentonia, Mississippi, bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes reflect his years of experience. Holmes is one of the last bluesmen who play a style known as Bentonia blues.

At an Old Juke Joint in Mississippi, the Blues Are Alive

Jimmy Holmes is the last in a line of music legends as he seeks to keep a singular American art form thriving

The choir performs at the ruins of a mill in Sweetwater Creek State Park in Douglas County, Georgia

Smithsonian Voices

Hear a Georgia Choral Group as They Rediscover the Art of Sacred Harp Singing

Students find lasting resonance in the words and simple notes of the 1869 hymn 'How Can I Keep from Singing?'

The Ifesowapo dùndún ensemble performing in Igbo Ora, southwest Nigeria

How Does the West African Talking Drum Accurately Mimic Human Speech?

A new study explores how the dùndún replicates tones and patterns of the Yorùbá language

Here are 12 of the rarest doo-wop records ever made. “Can’t Help Loving That Girl of Mine” (1954) by Philadelphia’s 
Hide-A-Ways is, Shively says, the “holy grail of vocal group
collecting.”

A Peek Inside the World's Greatest Record Store

A lovable grouch, obsessed with the magic of American sidewalk harmony, runs the Philadelphia shop

The painting is one of 47 in the pop star's D Heads series.

Cool Finds

David Bowie Painting Purchased at Landfill for $4 Expected to Fetch Thousands

The rock star created the semi-abstract portrait—up for auction through June 24—in 1997

During the 1860s, Chinese laborers dug extensive tunnels through the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Eleven Endangered Historic Places That Tell Complex American Stories

The National Trust for Historic Preservation's 2021 list includes Mississippi hotel, Navajo trading post and California railroad tunnels

"What’s Going On" was a turning point for Marvin Gaye.

Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On' Is as Relevant Today as It Was in 1971

Fifty years ago, the artist released Motown's best-selling album ever and changed the course of his musical career

"Beckoning: A Playlist of AAPI Joy, Sorrow, Rage and Resistance" is an eclectic mix of heartwarming tunes, instrumentals and pointed social commentary from such veterans as Yoko Ono and Brothers Cazimero as well as emerging artists like Audrey Nuna and G Yamazawa.

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center Calls Upon Its Community to Share the Power of Music

As an antidote for these times, 43 songs honoring joy, sorrow, rage and resistance

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