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Suspended Animation in Berlin

I thought I’d just follow up on Misha’s post about our search for inspiration for the “toob”. Last Christmas holidays I happened to be heading through Berlin to Italy to visit the in-laws  – no direct flights from Scotland to Venice, it seems we Scots are condemned to only visit the south of Spain cheaply… I digress, however, one of Berlin’s many attractions which stood out for me on picking up the ‘welcome to Berlin guide’ was the Musical Instrument Museum. So dragging my other half through the bitter cold streets of a festive Berlin we pushed aside the heavy felt curtain and stepped inside.

I didn’t know what to expect from the museum, but the first thing that struck me was the paradoxical silence of the place, here arrayed before you are an amazingly diverse menagerie of instruments all strangely frozen in time and space within glass display cases. The diversity however is amazing, it really is like the galapagos islands of instruments, every possible variation of an instrument’s ‘dna’ is on display here, some extinct species, other cruder, yet noble ancestors of modern day instruments.

It took us about ten minutes of walking around under the stern gaze of the prison warders/museum curators before realising that there was an audio guide available. At this point the visit came to life, and these silent instruments got the chance to sing again. Whilst the museum is on the surface extremely dry and academic, even down to the clipped tones of the audio guide introducing each instrument with a code, when you hear the instruments play you can suddenly imagine; a baroque orchestra, a dance instructor, a traveling raconteur, a cathedral, or  a folk festival.

In terms of the toob, the array of wind instruments were inspiring to see a wide variety of mechanisms for pads, both from a functional and an aesthetic point of view.

Some more of my surreptitious shots in my flickr set here;

3 replies on “Suspended Animation in Berlin”

Brian: thanks for that interesting account and photos. I am lucky to get over to that side of the atlantic once every 5+ years, but your post has me definitely wanting to visit this museum, and now plan a musical instrument tour/pilgimage to coincide with the usual beer sampling tours 🙂 As a matter of fact, its about time to plan the next tour…

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