Musical Instruments

Library patrons will soon be able to check out ukuleles in libraries across Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Libraries Will Let You Check Out a Ukulele

Read, strum, repeat

How a Piano Dropped from a Helicopter Paved the Way For Woodstock

The Piano Drop set the stage for the outdoor rock festival

Chuck Brown (1936-2012), the Godfather of Go-Go, owned this six-string Gibson guitar, now in the collections of the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum.

Chuck Brown's Guitar Drove the Musician's Persuasive "Wind Me Up" Rhythm

The Godfather of Go-Go's family recall how the musician crafted the innovative sound that would define a local tradition

Eddie Van Halen, 1985

The Electric Guitar's Long (And Louder), Strange Trip

From its gentle 16th-century acoustic origins to the souped-up ‘Frankenstein,’ a Smithsonian scholar strums the historic chords of the guitar

This personal robot can listen, talk, take photos and even feel temperature.

Five Wild Ideas That Just Got Funded: From an Automated Home Brewery to a Personal (Robot) Assistant

Two other quirky inventions teach music in novel ways

Artist Yoshi Sodeoka envisions musical instruments carried in satellites orbiting the Earth that would be able to “neutralize nations at war."

How Will We Make Music in 200 Years?

A group of innovators were asked to imagine what music will be like in 2214. If they're right, it could be pretty bizarre

This Awesome Synthesizer Turns the Weather Into Song

Hear the pitter-patter of rain in a new way

A standard 10-hole Hohner harmonica.

Industrial Espionage and Cutthroat Competition Fueled the Rise of the Humble Harmonica

How a shrewd salesman revolutionized the instrument industry

Maureen Yancey donated her late son’s Akai MIDI Production Center 3000 Limited Edition (MPC) and his custom-made Minimoog Voyager synthesizer to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The Legacy of Hip-Hop Producer J Dilla Will Be Recognized

The late producer's mother announced she is donating his synthesizer and beat machine to the African American History Museum

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You Otter Believe These Zoo Animals Can Play the Piano, the Harmonica and the Xylophone

D.C.'s hottest summer concert is brought to us by an unlikely source: a bevy of animal musicians

Violinists Can’t Tell the Difference Between Old and New Instruments

Regardless, many report still preferring old-school violins made by Italian masters

New to the collections: John Coltrane's 1965 Mark VI tenor saxophone

A Sax Supreme: John Coltrane's Legendary Instrument Joins the Collections of the American History Museum

Ravi Coltrane, son of jazz musicians John and Alice Coltrane, donates one of his father's three saxophones

The shanties were erected with materials salvaged mainly from an 18th-century Creole cottage that collapsed on the site in 2009—everything from mahogany paneling to rattraps.

You've Never Heard A Music Box Like This

In a funky New Orleans experiment, musicians turn a ramshackle house into a cacophony of sounds

Born in Lochgelly, Scotland in 1929, Temperley is America's oldest baritone sax artist, and one of the true anchors of the global jazz scene.

Joe Temperley’s Ageless Sax

The Scottish baritone saxophone musician recalls his 60-year career and the famous singers he’s accompanied

The Smithsonian collection of 8,000-plus instruments includes 5 by Stradivari.

Sound Scholarship

Impromptu jam sessions, including a gathering at Floyd, Virginia's Country Store, attract musicians and dancers raised on the raw and keening power of mountain music.

A Musical Tour Along the Crooked Road

Grab a partner. Bluegrass and country tunes that tell America's story are all the rage in hilly southern Virginia

Eddie Van Halen recently donated his custom-made guitar named Frankenstein 2 to the National Museum of American History.

Q and A with Eddie Van Halen

The rock guitarist talks about his custom-made Frankenstein 2 that is now in the collections of the American History museum

Gene Krupa "stole Benny [Goodman]'s thunder," says Kennith Kimery, executive producer of the SMithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. "In the end that cost him his job."

Gene Krupa: a Drummer with Star Power

Rising to fame with the Benny Goodman band, Gene Krupa was the first superstar drummer

Alvino Rey may not be a household name today, but Rey's genre-busting fretwork in electric music's nascent years helped set the stage for modern rock.

Alvino Rey’s Musical Legacy

As the father of the electric guitar and grandfather of two members of Arcade Fire, Rey was a major influence on rock for decades

Anthropologist Bruno Frohlich with a 1920 Czech viola at the National Museum of Natural History.

Scanning a Stradivarius

Medical 3-D imaging makes it possible to study the world's greatest stringed instruments – and uncover the secrets of its makers

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