Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. Search this
7.5 Cubic feet (15 boxes )
1996 November 11-16
This week-long event explored the intersection of technology and music in the 20th century; it included oral and video histories, exhibitions, concerts, and a symposium discussing the cultural significance of the electric guitar as instrument, technology, and symbol.
Scope and Contents:
The collection contains original, master, and reference videos in several formats: BetaCam SP, 3⁄4" U-matic, 1⁄2" VHS, digital audio tape (DAT), and compact disks (CD). The collection documents Electrified, Amplified, and Deified: The Electric Guitar, Its Makers, and Its Players, as part of the Lemelson Center's series of New Perspectives. Through a series of public events, the Lemelson Center explored the intersection of technology and music in the 20th century. The week-long event included oral and video histories, exhibitions, concerts, and a symposium discussing the cultural significance of the electric guitar as instrument, technology, and symbol and an electronic fieldtrip for school age children.
The collection is arranged into four series: Series 1, Oral Histories, 1996; Series 2, Symposium and Other Programs, 1996; Series 3, Innovative Lives and Electronic Fieldtrip Presentation, 1996; and Series 4, Miscellaneous, 1996, undated. Each series is further divided into subseries arranged by format—BetaCam SP, digital audio tape (DAT), 3⁄4" U-Matic, and 1⁄2" VHS. The symposium footage has multiple camera angles resulting in Camera A and Camera B.
The oral histories contain interviews with some of the best known electric guitar manufacturers, luthiers, and accessory makers discussing major twentieth-century technological and cultural trends. The interviews were conduct by Reuben Jackson, Marge Oustrushko, Robert Santelli and Matt Watson. The interviewees include: Junior Brown; John Ingram; Duke Kramer; Ted McCarty; Pat Metheny; Les Paul; G.E. Smith; Paul Reed Smith; Joe Louis Walker; and Tom Wheeler.
Les Paul was interviewed as part of the Lemelson Center's series Portraits of Invention. Legendary guitarist and innovator Les Paul discusses his work with Marc Pachter, Counselor to the Secretary of the Smithsonian. Additionally, Les Paul discusses his work with Matt Watson.
The Acoustic Guitar Concert held at NMAH's Hall of Musical Instruments on November 14, 1996, included a performance by Howard Aldin, guitarist. Martha Morris, Deputy Director, NMAH; Art Molella, Director, Lemelson Center; and James Weaver, Curator, NMAH provided opening remarks.
The symposium, New Sounds, and other programs explored events surrounding the invention of the electric guitar, past and present technological innovations, and contributions made by early pioneers of guitar making. Two evening concerts included performances by some of the country's finest electric guitarists—Howard Aldin, Jim Hall, Junior Brown, Joe Louis Walker, and The Ventures.
New Sounds explores the intersection of technology and music in the 20th century, focusing on the invention and diffusion of the electric guitar. The symposium brings together inventors, historians, and musicians for a day of conversation and inquiry.
The morning sessions addressed Inventing and Popularizing the Electric Guitar with National Museum of American (NMAH) Curator, Charles McGovern, and Innovators and Entrepreneurs Panel Discussion with participants Ted McCarty, Duke Kramer, John Hall, Richard R. Smith, and moderator Tom Wheeler.
The afternoon sessions addressed The Electric Guitar in Context with an introduction by NMAH archivist, Reuben Jackson, and historians, Susan Horning, James Kraft, and Rebecca McSwain discussing relationships among invention, economics, labor, race, and technological enthusiasm. After the session the panelists fielded audience questions.
The Innovative Lives Presentation and Electronic Fieldtrip were presented in cooperation with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, OH. Robert Santelli, Director of Education at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, along with Paul Reed Smith and G.E. Smith, described the invention of the electric guitar, demonstrated the different types of music played on a variety of guitars, and answered student questions about musical innovation and the electric guitar. Student's participation included: Kenmore Middle School (Arlington, VA); Robert Frost Middle School (Rockville, MD); Paul Junior High School (Washington, D.C.); Elkhart Community Schools (Indiana); and Cleveland, OH area middle schools.
The Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation was founded in 1995 at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History through a generous gift from the Lemelson Foundation. The Center's mission is: to document, interpret, and disseminate information about invention and innovation; to encourage inventive creativity in young people; and to foster an appreciation for the central role invention and innovation play in the history of the United States. The Innovative Lives series brings together Museum visitors and especially, school age children, and American inventors to discuss inventions and the creative process and to experiment and play with hands-on activities related to each inventor's product. This collection was recorded by the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.
Just the words "electric guitar" can conjure up images in our minds. Jimi Hendrix playing "The Star-Spangled Banner." The neighbor's kid whose band practices in the garage. Leather jackets, motorcycles, and slicked-back hair. A Fender Stratocaster. Or a Gibson Flying V or Les Paul. Music that is, depending on your generation, either too loud or not quite loud enough. Rock and roll. Jazz. Blues. Country. The sound of an electric guitar is familiar to most of us. How did that happen? Why has the work of the people who invented, designed, and popularized this instrument become so much a part of everyday life?
These questions and others were raised during Electrified, Amplified, and Deified: The Electric Guitar, Its Makers, and Its Players, the second in the Lemelson Center's annual series on New Perspectives on Invention and Innovation. From November 9-16, 1996, the Center, in cooperation with the National Museum of American History Division of Cultural History, sponsored concerts, movies, interviews, makers' displays, an exhibit, and a symposium, all spotlighting those inventors and players who plugged in and forever changed the sound of American music.
This collection was created by the Lemelson Center and NMAH staff from the Division of Music, Sports and Entertainment in November of 1996.
The collection is open for research use. Series 1, Oral Histories, the Les Paul oral history interviews are restricted; see repository for details.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Musical instruments industry -- 20th century Search this