Musical Instruments

Lester Young electrified the jazz world with his dexterity and imagination.

Lester Young Turns 100

Billie Holiday’s favorite musician, jazz great Lester “Prez” Young brought a hip, freewheeling sensibility to his saxophone playing

Goodman played the clarinet even "during the commercial breaks of the World Series," according to one of his daughters.

Benny Goodman's Clarinet

Late in his career, jazz musician Benny Goodman favored a Parisian “licorice stick” as his instrument of choice

Cesar Lopez and cellist Sandra Parra perform in Bogota with his “escopetarra” at the launch of Colombia’s 2008 peace week

Colombia Dispatch 7: Turning Guns into Guitars

Musician Cesar Lopez invented a new type of guitar, made from the shell of an automatic weapon

Students perform together at the vallenato music academy

Colombia Dispatch 6: Accordion Rock Stars in Valledupar

Andres 'Turco' Gil's accordion academy trains young children in the music of vallenato, the folk music popular across Latin America

Colombian singer Carlos Vives (left, with Egidio Cuadrado at the 2007 festival) is bringing worldwide fame to the genre.

Squeeze Play

A new Smithsonian Networks Film brings alive the upbeat music of Colombia's cowboy country

Irving Berlin's piano

Ivory Merchant

Composer Irving Berlin wrote scores of hits on his custom-built instrument


Last Page: Strings Attached

"You want the greatest guitar ever?" Dad asked


Harp Hero

Endangered instruments tug one musician's heartstrings


The Piano Wars


The Talking Drums


Paderewski's Piano

When Polish pianist Ignace Paderewski toured America, he became a celebrity—and boosted Steinway


Sharing the Gift of Music

An endowment accompanying rare instruments lets them be heard in performances and on recordings

Blue, Blue, Blue Guitars


Pipe Dreams

The royal instrument is the most complex and powerful yet devised by the human mind


Plugged In, and Playing With Power


Sure the Piano-Violin Can Do Two Things At Once—But Can It Do Them Well?

Sure the piano-violin can do two things at once—but can it do them well?

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