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Musical Mud

July 8 – September 2, 2006

Opening Party: July 8, 6-9 p.m.

Musical Mud Bonampak Composite

The American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA) will host Musical Mud, July 8 – September 2, 2006, an exhibition of both historic and contemporary ceramic musical instruments. Since the earliest times, clay has been used to make musical instruments. Many of them originated as domestic pots, but their use changed with the discovery of their sound-producing properties. Musical Mud will begin with a variety of Pre-Columbian ceramic wind instruments – ocarinas, whistles, flutes and whistling jars – from Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, and Mexico, many of which were made in human or animal likeness. These, along with other simpler forms decorated with ceramic pigments, are often considered to be works of art and have found their way into many museums. Similarly, elaborately decorated ceramic instruments from other cultures emphasize the importance of music in ancient societies. Percussion instruments from the Mid-East show off surfaces of Islamic abstract design, while drums and rattles from India and Africa display highly-polished exteriors that could only have been accomplished through a substantial investment of time and patience.

In like manner, modern musical instruments are frequently constructed and designed with visual beauty in mind. Musical Mud will also exhibit present-day instruments created by such contemporary ceramicists as Brian Ransom, Susan Rawcliffe, Steve Smeed, and Frank Giorgini. The opening party for Musical Mud will be held on July 8th from 6-9 p.m. and will feature a musical rendition by former Claremont resident Brian Ransom, who currently teaches ceramics at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Norma Tanega of Claremont. On July 15th, Xavier Quijas Yxayotl will perform along with dancers, paying musical homage to his Maya ancestry. He will play flutes and whistles, some with as many as fourteen chambers. Adding drama to his performance, Yxayotl ignites the end of his flute, causing flames to leap into the air while he makes his music. On July 29, from noon to 4 p.m., AMOCA will offer a whistle-making workshop for children and families. Lastly, a membership appreciation event, to be held on August 15th at 5 p.m., will feature Susan Rawcliffe, master flute maker, player, and researcher of primeval sound, who will give a lecture/demonstration on wind instruments made from clay. From Mud to Music, a recently-published book and CD that features clay musical instruments from ancient to modern times from cultures around the world, will be used as a guide for establishing our curriculum. The author, Barry Hall, is the founder of Burnt Earth Ceramic Musical Instruments.

Don Bendel - The Snake Bendelphone Frank Giorgini - Udu Drum collection Barry Hall, author of new publication, From Mud to Music Pretzel Didjeridu