It’s a pretty standard question - what type of music do you like to listen to? Is it SKA, Skiffle, Screamo, IDM, EDM, Ambient, Emo, Doo-Wop, Hip Hop, Hard Rock, Glam Rock, Rockabilly, Rock & Roll…
Whatever your answer, they’ve got it at the Grammy Museum. The museum opened as part of the L.A. LIVE district in 2008 in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the Grammy Awards.
We went with tempered expectations, anticipating it to be a tacky tourist seducer, like The Wax Museum or Ripley’s. Happily, it was not.
Aside from the eye-roll inducing three-walled television projection of acceptance speeches from past Grammy Awards, the museum isn’t tacky at all.
It has four floors of interactive exhibits that celebrate not only the history of the Grammy Awards, but the legacies of all forms of music, from the creative process to the art and technology of the recording process
One of the first exhibits is a giant touch pad that allows you to peruse the history of your favorite music styles and ones you’ve probably never heard of, like Krautrock - “a distinctively German combination of psychedelic rock & roll, avant-garde instrumentation and early electronic dabbling…” Whatever that means. Throw on the headphones and listen to a sampling from the various genres.
The museum is great for kids and adults alike. There is a large tribute to Otis Redding and to Motown. The current rotating exhibit features Bob Marley and was preceded by an exhibit on Tupac.
There are booths scattered around the museum, where you can test your prowess as a music producer. There is a rock band area, where you can play the keyboard, guitar, drums, etc. There are headphones attached to each instrument, so only you get to hear what you’re playing. Watching people banging away at the instruments is a bit like watching a silent disco.
One of the highlights is a soundproof room that allows you to hear how music sounds different, depending on what device you use to listen. Watch MIA, T.I, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and Kanye perform Swagga Like Us at the 2009 Grammy Awards. You’ll hear what it would have sounded like on a gramophone, record player, walkman, iPod and finally - in a booming crescendo - on surround sound.
Take the Metro! The museum’s just a few blocks from the 7th and Metro stop in downtown.
If you must drive, there is a lot servicing the LA Live area.