Focused on Mississippi: Templeton Music Museum

Focused on Mississippi

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WJTV) – One of Mississippi’s slogans is “The Birthplace of American Music.” Needless to say, we have a lot of museums in the state that document music. We not only have museums that tell you about the state’s musical roots, but there is one museum that is unlike any of the rest of them.

On one end of the spectrum, we have the Mississippi Grammy Museum in Cleveland. This is a state of the art facility documenting the accomplishments of the people in the recording industry. By the way, Mississippi has more Grammy winners than any other state.

But the music had be recorded first, before anybody could win a Grammy. The icon of the Grammy’s is a likeness of a Gramophone, which is one of the earliest record players. They have plenty of real ones across the state in the Templeton Music Museum in the library on the campus of Mississippi State University.

The Templeton collection is the culmination of a 40 year odyssey by Starkville businessman, Charles H. Templeton, who collected pieces from almost every state in the Union. He was intrigued by the mechanical reproduction of music.

At first, musical reproduction was entirely mechanical. And even before the recording of sound itself, there were devices like music boxes, which had a set of reeds that were plucked by dimples on a disk or a drum as it was mechanically moved past them.

Then they got really elaborate and came up with mechanical ways to play musical instruments, like the player piano. This particular one is coin operated. As long as you have nickels, it will keep playing. 

Then in an attempt to record the dots and dashes of a telegram, Thomas Edison hit on the idea of using a diaphragm and a needle to record sound waves into a revolving cylinder, which was flattened into a disk in the late 1800s and was flipped to record on both sides in 1908. 

What you’ll see in the Templeton Museum are variations on that theme, capturing the moment to play over and over again.

It’s a tribute to the genius of America, coming up with the music that deserved preserving and devices on which to do so. That gave rise to an industry that has created the background soundtrack of our lives.

The Templeton Museum is closed until the first Monday in August at Mississippi State University.

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