Tap your toes to America’s beat at New Harmonies exhibit
Posted 7/10/2011 1:42:00 PM
What are you listening to this weekend? No, I don’t mean the music on your iPod or on your car radio. What other music are you hearing?
Maybe you are taking a walk downtown and a man on a street corner is playing his harmonica and singing a sad tale of how his baby left him. Maybe you’ll be heading to an outdoor festival and a Bluegrass band will be plucking their banjos and twanging out some songs about life on the mountain. Or maybe you’ll drive by a church and a Gospel choir will be singing their praises to the Lord.
That kind of music, the music of American life, is known as American Roots Music and New Harmonies, a Smithsonian exhibit
touring South Carolina this summer, celebrates our nation’s diverse musical heritage.
Fantastic displays chronicle the blending of sounds and cultures that have, over the years, created a multitude of uniquely American musical genres. By combining the musical cultures that they left behind with the spirit and sounds of their new home, immigrants to this country created a shocking variety of original musical genres in this musical melting pot.
European folk ballads became country and bluegrass. Out of African beats came Jazz and the Blues. French Cajuns mixed a piano accordion with a down-home washboard to create Zydeco. The exhibit shows not only the history of each of these genres (and many more) but also illuminates how different cultural groups and their music influenced each other.
The exhibit is eye opening, or should I say ear-opening. One of the best parts of the exhibit is the accompanying listening station that allows you to hear samples of all of the different kinds of Roots Music covered in the exhibit, from Native American chants to Woody Guthrie’s anthems of democracy to Jewish Klezmer music.
Now through July 16, New Harmonies is on display at the Conway
branch of the Horry County Memorial Library
. After that, the exhibit will tour various locations
throughout the state over the next year.
for more on New Harmonies, a scavenger hunt activity, lesson plans and suggested reading.