Sounds Global

‘Careful with the ones that are made out of fish skin’.

I began the morning of Saturday 24th July by carrying 38 different types of drum collected throughout the world through the galleries of the National Museum of Scotland with the musician Pete Vilk. The drums were being set up for drop-in music workshops that would allow visitors to the museum to take a tour of rhythms from three different areas around the world.

Pete is a drummer, percussionist, composer, sound designer and workshop leader. He keeps his drum collection in his garage at North Berwick and had filled his car with just a fraction of them, to allow visitors the chance to try their hand on a variety of instruments he has collected from around the globe.

As the peace and quiet of the museum gave way to more hustle and bustle towards lunchtime, Pete began drumming high above the central hall and watched as a stream of curious people of all ages appeared.

Those visitors enjoying our Scottish collections on Saturday may have been intrigued by the distant chants and song that filtered through the museum instead of the usual Edinburgh bagpipes. By the end of the afternoon there was a frenetic atmosphere in the space where 70 people had taken part in workshops and learned a lot about the sounds and instruments of the Middle East, Africa and Cuba. You will be able to see many of these instruments and more when they are on display in the Performance and Lives gallery opening in the redeveloped Royal Museum in summer 2011.

‘Sounds Global’ weekend launched our involvement in London’s 2012 Olympic Celebrations. Along with 14 other national UK partners, National Museums Scotland kicked off its project on this weekend to begin a two-year countdown to the games. Our ‘Sounds Global’ project will work with young people aged 14-24 and will focus on our musical instrument collection, culminating in an exhibition here in 2012.

While Saturday’s music came from drums made of wood and animal hide, Sunday’s performers used laptops, iPods and mixing decks, as well as some traditional dhol drums. Tigerstyle, a DJ duo from Glasgow, brought Bhangra beats and the sound of Bollywood to the museum. Tigerstyle are classically trained in Punjabi instrumentation and folk yet merge this with contemporary hip hop and rap. This combination has won them a massive fan base around the world. This wasn’t the first time they had played in a museum: they’ve played  at Berlin Museum before, as well as the opening of winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Punjabi percussion courtesy of Tigerstyle. Photo © Jenni Sophia Fuchs.
Punjabi percussion courtesy of Tigerstyle. Photo © Jenni Sophia Fuchs.
The crowd watch Tigerstyle perform. Photo © Jenni Sophia Fuchs.
The crowd watch Tigerstyle perform. Photo © Jenni Sophia Fuchs.
The Tigerstyle DJ rocks the museum Bhangra style.
The Tigerstyle DJ rocks the museum Bhangra style. Photo © Jenni Sophia Fuchs.

‘Sounds Global’ will explore how pivotal music is to people all around the world. We’ll also explore how traditional instruments from around the world feature in the new music that young people in Scotland make and listen to, as well as hopefully using the digital recordings of world instruments that we have here in the museum to create new music ourselves.

Have a listen to the tune that opened Tigerstyle’s set here at the museum ‘Nachna Onda Nei’

It’s a hybrid of Michael Jackson samples, Vanilla Ice and Bhangra!


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