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Musical Instruments: Highlights of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Moore, J. Kenneth, Jayson Kerr Dobney, and E. Bradley Strauchen-Scherer
192 pages
166 illustrations
Foreword Reviews' Book of the Year Award, Bronze Winner in Performing Arts & Music (2015)
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This insightful appreciation of musical instruments features more than one hundred extraordinary pieces from the Metropolitan Museum’s collection. Whether created to entertain a royal court, provide personal solace, or aid in rites and rituals, these instruments fully demonstrate music’s universal resonance and the ingenuity various cultures have deployed for musical expression. The results are astoundingly diverse: from Bronze Age cymbals and sistra to violins made by Stradivari, monumental slit drums from Oceania, and iconic twentieth-century American guitars. Stunning new photographs and a lively text reveal these objects to be works of both musical and visual art, as well as marvels of technology and masterpieces of design. Depictions of instruments and music making—paintings, statues, and pottery—further illuminate the narrative, providing a vivid counterpoint to these remarkable objects.

Dressing Room for Musicians at a Theater (Shitakubeya), Katsushika Hokusai  Japanese, Woodblock print; ink and color on paper, Japan
Katsushika Hokusai
Female Musicians, Limestone, paint
ca. 1353–1336 B.C.
Joint Landscape, Shen Zhou  Chinese, Handscroll; ink on paper, China
Shen Zhou
Wen Zhengming
ca. 1509 and 1546
Merry Company on a Terrace, Jan Steen  Dutch, Oil on canvas
Jan Steen
ca. 1670
Self-Portrait with a Harp, Rose Adélaïde Ducreux  French, Oil on canvas
Rose Adélaïde Ducreux
Sistrum (rattle), Copper alloy, Hattian
ca. 2300–2000 BCE
Sistrum Inscribed with the Names of King Teti, Travertine (Egyptian alabaster), pigment, resin
ca. 2323–2291 B.C.
Sistrum with a dedication referring to a king, Silver
332–30 B.C.
Relief from the South Wall of a Chapel of Ramesses I, Limestone
ca. 1295–1294 B.C.
Arched Harp (shoulder harp), Wood
ca. 1390–1295 B.C.
Figurative Harp (Domu), Wood, hide, twine, brass ring, Mangbetu peoples
Mangbetu peoples
19th–20th century
Pair of Clappers, Hippopotamus ivory
ca. 1353–1336 B.C.
Bell (Yongzhong), Bronze, China
5th–3rd century BCE
Chime bell “Jiazhong”, Gilt bronze, China
dated 1715
Drum Tympanum with Star, Bronze, Vietnam (North) (?)
Vietnam (North) (?)
500 BCE–300 CE
Mahōra Thuk (กลองมโหระทึก), Leaded bronze, possibly Thai
possibly Thai
14th–17th century
Drum, Nasca artist(s), Ceramic, slip, Nasca
Nasca artist(s)
100–400 CE
Drum, Ceramic, polychrome, Paracas
300–200 BCE
Drum, Ceramic, polychrome, Paracas
300–200 BCE
Tibia, Ivory, silver, chalcedony, Syrian
ca. 1–500
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Moore, J. Kenneth, Jayson Kerr Dobney, and E. Bradley Strauchen-Scherer. 2015. Musical Instruments: Highlights of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Metropolitan Museum Of Art.