Museum of Making Music
5790 Armada Drive
(off Interstate 5 at Palomar Mountain Road) Carlsbad, CA
Call 877-551-9976 o
By C. MacDonald
Carlsbad, California--One of the most magnificent museums in the United
States is nestled just west of Legoland, above the famous flower fields
in this beautiful city in Northern San Diego County. Once you enter the
impressive 6,500 square-foot, "hands-on" facility, you'll be in awe, and
in for an experience you'll never forget.
The Smithsonian-quality, Museum of Making Music, founded in 1998 by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), is an incredible treasure that makes a lasting impression on your senses through huge murals and state-of-the-art gallery displays, which take you back in time, bring you to the present and get you thinking about the future.
You can select audio and video clips featuring a variety of musicians, instruments and their glorious sounds over more than 100 years. You also can create your own music by playing several instruments--from guitars to drums to a Slaperoo, a vertical, electric-timed percussion instrument, which produces vibrations from a steel strap making a unique sound.
"We have over 500 instruments on display and up to 80 clips that help preserve our musical heritage," said the museum's B.J. Morgan. "We tell the story of the people who created the instruments and show the importance of them to our country and the world. We offer concerts with musicians from around the globe and we have a variety of educational programs."
You'll learn how Dr. Paul Tanner took the Theremin and developed the Tannermin to create the unique sound at the end of The Beach Boys hit, "Good Vibrations;" how the famous Gibson company in 1908 modernized the Mandolin and made it easier to play and more accessible to the masses; the story of Ukuleles from 1916 and their evolution to easier-to-play instruments; the Rickenbacker, aluminum-cast "Frying Pan" of 1934, so important in electric pickup (turning the vibrations of the string into electrical signals that can be amplified); Steinway's military olive drab "Victory Pianos" (sent to the troops during WWII); a 1951 Fender "Nocaster" Electric Guitar (you can actually play their Telecaster guitar); a Mellotron, like the one the Beatles used for the flute recording on "Strawberry Fields Forever," plus much, much more.
One of the most popular parts of the museum is the interactive Innovative Studio, that has six stations, including drums, guitar, base and keyboard. Each area has a touch screen for lessons, turning on speakers, playing solo or having a live jam session. Each station offers the same music.
What you'll really learn from this incredible experience is how people are always innovating and creating new instruments off the ones already in existence, like the Harpejji, an instrument played by tapping the strings to produce a note. It has 16 strings covering 4 octaves. You can actually try it out.
"The Sound of Sax" is a special exhibit showing how Adolphe Sax created the saxophone (1846 Patent) while trying to fill a gap between strings and base. While in the "1890-1909" room, I really enjoyed hearing the actual voice of John Philip Sousa, then listening to his patriotic, legendary "Stars and Stripes Forever."
You should make your plans right away to visit this fantastic place. There's just so much to explore at the unbelievable museum that has a modest admittance fee.