Today I returned to la Cité de la musique to experience the museum's current exhibition, "Great Black Music". Ria had alredy been this weekend, and she was so enthusiastic when telling me about it. She said that it takes a long time to see and hear everything, and that it took her five hours. I thought that was silly and didn't understand why it would take that long, but I ended up being there for over four hours.
The reason why it takes so long to get through this exhibition is because they give you a lot of music to listen to. Instead of your average audioguide, you are given an mp3 player that allows you to interact with the exhibit. Throughout you will see numbers corresponding to songs or commentary that have to do with a certain artist, genre, or theme. You just select the number to listen and watch on the provided screens. And what's more, if you provide your email address, you can "like" as many songs as you want and the exhibit will send you a playlist of your selections after you turn the mp3 player in. How cool is that?! Technology has its benefits.
"Great Black Music" is divided into the following sections: Legends of Black Music (black artists from around the world that everyone should know), Mama Africa (music from northern, western, central, and southern Africa), Sacred Rhythms and Rites (including candomble, voodoo, santeria and gospel), Timeline, Black Americas (music by African-Americans, Latin Americans, and Caribbeans), and Global Mix. Obviously Black Americas was the section that I resonated with most, since it's the kind of black music I'm most familiar with. This part of the exhibition also made me feel really proud to be black. I was looking around and listening and seeing how much people were enjoying the music, and was like Yeah, that's right. We did this. This is just one of many awesome things we've given the world.
As the conclusion of the exhibition, I felt like something was missing from Global Mix but couldn't really put my finger on it. Great Black Music's themes are strong and its narrative is really well done in the beginning and the middle, but something about Global Mix didn't leave me satisfied. I can't really explain it. But I must admit that Global Mix is the most interactive section. You've got the mp3 music and video selection thing, but then you've also got dance tutorials and virtual spray-painting and turntables. Overall, I LOVED this exhibit. You definitely get your money's worth with all the different artists and musical styles you get exposed to, and the ambiance is a lot more relaxed than in your average museum exhibition. Great Black Music is magnificent!
As I said before, I was there for over four hours and I didn't even get to listen to every single song they had available. If you'll be in Paris between now and August 24th, and you want to get as much out of "Great Black Music" as you can, set aside at least 3-4 hours so that you can take your time enjoying it all.
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