Play It Loud looks at the tools of the rock revolution

What is loud rock music without the guitar? We need never wonder, but we can take the time to reflect and trace its evolution over the past eight decades, thanks to a new exhibit at the Met in New York City.

Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll” features more than 100 instruments that were used in the creation of not just rock music but the culture surrounding it.

Curated in partnership with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the exhibit also has posters and costumes from the bands and artists that made the music that brought so much change to the world.

“Many of rock’s most celebrated and recognized instruments will be featured, representing artists across generations and subgenres. In addition to institutional and private collectors, many musicians are lending their performance and recording instruments” to the exhibit, which opens April 8 and runs through October 1.

The Met claims this is the first exhibit to look at the instruments of rock, not just the people who played them.

“One of the most important artistic movements of the twentieth century, rock and roll’s seismic influence was felt across culture and society. Early rock musicians were attracted to the wail of the electric guitar and the distortion of early amplifiers, a sound that become forever associated with rock music and its defining voice,” the museum says. “Rock fans have long been fascinated by the instruments used by musicians. Many have sought out and acquired the exact models of instruments and equipment used by their idols, and spent countless hours trying to emulate their music and their look. The instruments used in rock and roll had a profound impact on this art form that forever changed music.”

There is, of course, an accompanying catalogue and picture album of the instruments featured in the exhibit with essays discussing the tools of the trade. Oddly enough, there’s no mention of a comprehensive soundtrack or sampler to provide a sonic backdrop for either the patron or the passerby.  

Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

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