Object of the Month: A Mandolin

by Gilda on February 28, 2015 · 0 comments

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Object of the Month: Mandolin

January 2015

Music is an integral part of the human experience. It has the power to bind many different people across different cultures. It has the power to express what is often very hard to put into spoken words. Over the course of history, music has been practiced and performed by a wide ranging and varied list of practitioners; from Gregorian choirs, travelling bards, orchestras, big bands of the swing music era, rock bands, sunglassed individuals pressing play on laptops and much more. For this iteration of Meadowlands Museum Object of the Month we will be taking a look at music through a small and specific lens. That lens is the history of the mandolin.

The beginning of the history of the mandolin coincides with the beginning of man’s creative output. Depicted in our ancestors first doodles scribbled on ancient French caves (thought to have been done around 15000 BC and 8500 BC), single string instruments being played with a bow are a precursor to all of man’s musical pursuits.[1] The descendant of this single stringed chordophone[2] would be known as the lute. The first recorded Lute would appear in the Mesopotamian area around 2000BC[3]. From this point the Lute, or “oud” as it was called then (oud is Arabic for wood), would spread its sweet plucked sound all throughout Europe. It made its way to Spain when it was under Moorish Conquest. It was then brought to Italy through trade. And finally, returning Crusaders brought the Lute back to the rest of Europe.[4]As one can see, the Lute had its roots firmly planted through a good portion of the world. It was also simultaneously being invented and improved upon in places like Greece, Russia and Brazil.

While the Lute was being invented, reinvented, discovered and rediscovered all over the world, the Mandolin (which after all is the subject of this rather brief history) was emerging in Naples, Italy in the 15th century. While it enjoyed popularity in Europe, it did not make its way over to America for some time. The Mandolin arrived in America in the latter half of the 19th century along with the great influx of European immigration. In 1880, a particular group of immigrants came over that would launch the mandolin into the spotlight. “Estudiantina Figaro,” or the Spanish Students, where a band that played the Spanish variant of the mandolin (referred to as the Bandurria) to the raucous excitement of audiences from New York and Boston.[5]

The Mandolin was certainly noticed after the commotion caused by the Spanish Students. From 1890 to 1925, Mandolin sales skyrocketed in America. Of course, this meant that production would have to skyrocket too. One such manufacturing company was up to the task. Lyon & Healy (a mandolin company) boasted that at any one time you can find up to 10,000 mandolins in various stages of construction in our factories.[6] Companies such as Gibson and Martin employed traveling salesman to peddle the instrument (much in the same vain as the “The Music Man” musical). The salesman found it was more effective to showcase the instrument than to simply pitch it to people. They set up Mandolin orchestras around social clubs and institutions. These orchestras survive to this day in places like New York City, Baltimore and Milwaukee. The fact that the mandolin was a relatively inexpensive instrument did not hinder its close relationship with the common man.[7]

Historically, the mandolin has gone through many variations and appeared under many different names and nicknames. Since its creation there have been several elements that are consistent to its design. Mandolins always featured a neck and a teardrop shape body. They have gone through mutations of 4 pairs of double strings to a plain six string instrument. Before the 20th century, Mandolins featured a bowl shaped back. This changed at the turn of the 20th century when Orville Gibson radically changed the design of the mandolin, changing it to the modern looking flat back (complete with ornate scroll located where the body of the mandolin meets the neck), guitar-esque style that is so common today. [8]

The mandolin has enjoyed a special place in the American musical spectrum, cresting multiple waves of popularity. Besides its introduction in the late 19th century, the mandolin is heavily featured in bluegrass and jug band music. It was also featured in several popular rock acts throughout the late 20th century such as the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, The Band, Jethro Tull, Rod Stewart, Seals and Crofts, R.E.M. and more. The mandolin that the Meadowlands Museum possesses is of the flat back variety, particularly the A-style mandolin (the body is in more of a teardrop shape and lacks the ornate scroll that is found on F-Style).[9] It has eight strings (four pairs of two strings close together) and underneath those strings is a pick guard.

[1] “A Brief History of the Mandolin”, Mandolin Café, accessed January 10, 2015, http://www.mandolincafe.com/archives/briefhistory.html.

[2] A chordophone is an instrument that produces sound through the vibration of a string that is stretched between two points.

[3] “A Brief History of the Mandolin”, Mandolin Café, accessed January 10, 2015, http://www.mandolincafe.com/archives/briefhistory.html.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “History of the Mandolin”, Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra, accessed January 10, 2015, http://www.pittsburghmandolinsociety.org/history-of-mandolin.

[6] “The History of the Mandolin”, Mandolins: A Brief History, accessed January 10, 2015, http://www.mandolinluthier.com/history.htm.

[7] “History of the Mandolin”, Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra, accessed January 10, 2015, http://www.pittsburghmandolinsociety.org/history-of-mandolin.

[8] “A Brief History of the Mandolin”, Mandolin Café, accessed January 17, 2015, http://www.mandolincafe.com/archives/briefhistory.html.

[9] “Anatomy of a Mandolin”, the Mandolin Pages, accessed January 17, 2015, http://banjolin.co.uk/mandolin/anatomy.htm.

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We were featured in the February 26, 2015 issue of the South Bergenite. Follow the link below to find out more about our current exhibition, and African American history in Rutherford:

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http://www.northjersey.com/arts-and-entertainment/entertainment-news/civil-rights-commission-celebrates-anniversary-with-iconic-exhibit-1.1278412

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Sweet, sweet, sweet! Even Virginia Marass, a founder of the Meadowlands Museum, was there!

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Spirits were high and the atmosphere was warm, albeit the bitterly cold weather, on February 13 at the museum’s annual Chocolate Tasting, a fundraiser. Delectable confections, baked goods and other treats arranged throughout the museum were complemented by champagne and hot drinks. As guests milled about sampling the offerings provided by local purveyors and other generous donors, the Steampunk duo The Eternal Frontier entertained, and even contributed their own chocolate, in the form of edible coins!

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Delicious desserts, good people and delightful music set the tone for the evening, but the museum’s exhibits were enjoyed also, including the Civil Rights Exhibit, which had opened earlier that week.

Many thanks to our business and individual donors!

Click on the links to learn more about our participating businesses:

Annabella’s Salumeria E Groceria: http://www.annabellasmozz.com/
Chocolate Dreams: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chocolate-Dreams/117644201630014
Chocolate Fantasia: http://chocolatefantasia.net/
Dayton’s Homemade Chocolate: https://www.facebook.com/DaytonChocolates
Goffin’s Hallmark: https://www.facebook.com/Goffins64
Varrelmann’s Bakery : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Varrelmanns-Bake-Shop/86708249452
Lyndhurst Pastry Shop: http://www.lyndhurstpastryshop.com/
Veriella’s Bakery: http://veriellasbakery.com/
Stop & Shop: http://stopandshop.com/

Bea Goldberg
Gilda Healy
Kathleen Mathieu
Rod Leith
Chuck Eastham

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Chocolate Tasting Team:
Gilda Healy
Jesse Gordon
Dale Jankowski
Mary DeSpirito
Alex Russo
Rod Leith
Tom Bivins
Chuck Eastham
Rhoda Portugal
Kathleen Mathieu
Archie Dean
Mark Slomiany
Tom Bryant

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Early closing 2.14.2015

by Gilda on February 14, 2015 · 0 comments

Due to expected snow, we will be closing the museum early today, at 1 pm. We apologize for any inconvenience.

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Chocolate Tasting tonight!!

by Gilda on February 13, 2015 · 0 comments

The Chocolate Tasting will be tonight, from 7-10Pm at the Museum.

Check out our EventBrite Link:

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/chocolate-steampunk-at-the-meadowlands-museum-featuring-eternal-frontier-and-our-annual-chocolate-tickets-15732204447

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Please join us on Monday, February 9, 2015 for the opening of our new exhibit on the Civil Rights Commission of Rutherford. We will explore African American and Women’s History, culminating in the creation of the Rutherford Civil Rights Commission.

The opening will be from 6-9 pm, and William Galloway, a key figure in the local Civil Rights movement, will speak. This event is free, and open to the public.

The exhibit will run through May 2015.

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Due to possible dangerous weather conditions, the Chocolate Tasting will be rescheduled for Friday, Febrary 13, 2015. The event will be held at the same time as originally scheduled from 7-10 pm.

Contact Jesse Gordon to purchase tickets, or for questions. jgordon.mmus@gmail.com

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Museum Hours Change

by Gilda on January 23, 2015 · 0 comments

Due to expected bad weather, the museum will be closed tomorrow, Saturday, January 24. Instead, the museum will be open today, January 23, from 10-4 pm. Regular open hours will resume next week on Wednesday.

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Limited Hours January 21, 2015

by Gilda on January 21, 2015 · 0 comments

Due to inclement weather, the museum will be open for limited hours today, from 9-12.

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Chocolate Tasting Event at the Museum

by Gilda on January 14, 2015 · 0 comments

Join us at the Meadowlands Museum for the annual Chocolate Tasting Event! Sample locally-made chocolates from businesses in the area, tour the Museum, and enjoy a toast to an evening out!

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Also joining us for some live music is The Eternal Frontier. The Eternal Frontier are a Steampunk, acoustical, musical duo.
Steam-minstrels Baron Von Zipple and Professor Adam Smasher play their guitars and sing Steampunk themed songs, both original and cover, for the amusement of one and all!

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Check out them out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Eternal-Frontier/434048053373992?ref=hl

Tickets:
Adults $20, Members/Seniors $15, Students $10. There will be a surcharge for tickets purchased at the door.

To Reserve your Spot contact Jesse Gordon:
jgordon.mmus@gmail.com
Office: 201-935-1175
Cell: 720-989-6735

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