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A coiling filament glowing within

May 17, 2012

Have you seen A History of the World in 100 Objects? Well the conference I attended today at a museum was a little like that. I just stayed for one session today and I got to hear about what we can learn about pianos, aesthetics and gender and the workforce in the history of “piano silkers” (the people who create the silk panels in 18th and 19th century pianos), about the way World War II affected the piano in Britain (truth and legend of involvement of piano manufacturers in manufacturing planes and other war equipment, including a bomb made with piano wire), about the ties to the banjo to West African spike lutes made of gourds. It was all very interesting and totally up my alley. I’m hoping to go back on Saturday and hear some more. It will depend on how easy it is to drag myself out of Brooklyn. I have to go back to the upper east side on Sunday for a concert. That’s a whole lot of uptown. On the plus side, Central Park! And the museum, which I didn’t actually get to see today. Too bad, too, because as I was leaving they were all going upstairs to hear demonstrations in the musical instruments collection.
Other things I learned:
1. Organologists (that’s the technical term for people who study musical instruments) are very sensitive to sound. This is not surprising.
2. Despite this, organologists are very bad at remembering to turn off their ringers during papers. This is somewhat surprising, given point 1. And thanks to point 1, every time a phone rang, there were many people glaring over the edges of their glasses.
3. Organologists have the best and most diverse bunch of ring tones I’ve ever heard. A koto solo!
4. I still have fantasies of reenacting From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler every time I walk into the Met.
What did you learn today?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2012 8:17 am

    Have a swim in the fountains and pick up some coins for lunch. I will have that on my mind all day today and why has Bug not read that book yet?

  2. May 18, 2012 10:55 am

    Yes yes yes to #4. Though the big fountain isn’t there anymore.

    My husband read that 100 Objects book and loved it.

    What have I learned today? Hmm…I don’t know yet.

  3. May 18, 2012 2:32 pm

    I have only been to the Met twice. But both times I remember looking around for exhibits with beds.

  4. May 18, 2012 7:59 pm

    Hmm. I don’t know what I learned today but I did have a chance to do some actual, in my field work. Not a lot but a tiny bit, which was nice. The orientation and get to know people/culture at work is very tiring. I’d rather do the real work.

  5. May 19, 2012 9:03 am

    The word for sweet potato in French in “la potate”

  6. May 19, 2012 12:57 pm

    I learned all these things you just told me. And I learned that I share #4 with several people, which tickles me no end!

  7. May 25, 2012 11:59 am

    There’s a BBC podcast of History of the World in 100 Objects that I started on a while ago. Lost the time to listen after about Object #10, but it was good nonetheless.

  8. May 26, 2012 9:29 pm

    The book is based on an exhibit at the British Museum, which I think the podcast is also based on.

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