British Music Experience: Being Your Own Artist

Posted on January 22nd, 2010 by

The O2 arena, located on the Greenwich peninsula in South East London, is a vast dome created at the beginning of the millennium.  The O2 bubble, as it is commonly referred to, was formally know as the Millennium Arena and has attracted countless popular musicians. It contains various spaces such as The O2 Arena, Entertainment Avenue, a cinema, an indoor events space, an outdoor events space, and a smaller music club. With all of these exciting attractions in mind, one can imagine the reaction visitors have when entering the doors. While walking into the large complex, I could not help but feel I was in a mall from the future. Blue orbs were hanging from the ceiling, along with disco balls dangling off neon green lights. Shops and restaurants lined the paved pathways and classic music from the past and present was playing in the background. The atmosphere made me excited for what awaited next.

Our destination for the day was a special interactive museum located within the O2, called The British Music Experience. I could not help but notice the Michael Jackson exhibit as we waited for our tickets.  The space was bursting with energy and mystery. Once the group was handed our tickets, we were told that these tickets had a secret within them. They were called Smartickets. In order to participate in some activities in The British Music Experience, we would need to scan our tickets, with the special microchip inside, and later we could go online and get access to what we had just participated in. It was a nice surprise.

After climbing the stairs to the museum, a gift shop awaited us. A worker told us to “wait a couple of minutes until the next show begun”. I did not know what this entailed, but I new it was going to be interesting. Once those couple minutes were up, we walked into a room with a large screen, a blue glow, and two white benches. There, we were shown a video with a witty tour guide telling us what we were about to see in the museum and how to use our tickets. I found this to be very informative.

While exiting the small area, we were ushered along a path in which we heard an audience cheering and applauding noisily. It was as if we were the one they were yelling for. Opening the doors into the next room, more blue lights came into view. This area, called “The Core”, was the center of the museum, which ran in a circle. This circular room included history, such as how people listened to music throughout the decades. Also, the area contained “Dance the Decades”. In this, a group could choose from certain dances, like the Twist or the Macarena, and dance along to them. A virtual instructor would show you how to do these moves and then the song would come into play and the rhythm would move at a faster pace. Afterwards, you would be able to watch instant replays on a computer screen of your dance performance. I watched people get many laughs from this. The interactive feature allowed people to learn, revisit the past, and have fun all at the same time.

“The Core” led to different eras of music in the surrounding rooms. These ranged from 1945 up until 2009.  Of the seven rooms, each had many similarities in the setup, and was effective in entertaining and teaching. For example, most rooms contained quotes from famous artists lining the walls. One quote by Freddie Mercury stated, “I really do love performing. I’m a dandy show-off. I get very high on all the attention.” Also, before entering the time period associated with the single area, explanations are given on plaques to inform the visitors about music during that era and the importance it had on history. The information would mention new terms or genres created and then proceed to give the definition. However, even if you did not read these plaques it was easy to follow what was going on in each space. Most rooms contained a large projection across one wall that continually playing out facts such as how when albums were released and what the hit songs were. The graphics were modern and appealing. Behind enclosed glass displays were clothes, magazine clippings, vinyls, and other small artifacts from the artists. Some that stood out to me were the array of outfits worn by The Spice Girls and Ringo Starr’s black shirt. Also included were the instruments these musicians played. It was easy to learn about the items in the glass cases because all you had to do was put on headphones and press a key on the interactive keyboards they provided. Each place on the imitation keyboard brought information about the particular objects you had selected.  I thought it was very fascinating to see such famous names like The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Coldplay, Duran Duran, Elton John, and Elvis Presley included in this musical experience. These names are commonly referred back to when bands today try to describe what their music sounds like.

After examining the time eras, I spent most of my time fascinated by the “Interaction Room”. When I first entered this space, I immediately wanted to play the instruments in it. This included the guitar, drums, keyboard, and a DJ station. A vocal area was also located in the room, and drum cymbals on the ceiling caught my eye. For each instrument, it was an option to learn how to play a song fitting your skill level. It did not matter if you were a beginner or an expert, because there was always something to do based on the selections given. I decided to give the guitar a try, and even though I do not know how to play the guitar I found myself being drawn into learning how to perform a song. This ten-minute introduction to the instrument was clear and held my attention. By the end of the tutorial, I could play a part of “Suddenly I See”, by KT Tunstall. Even though staff wandered the rooms as I participated in the experience, I did not feel awkward about being in their presence. In fact, I remember one team member playing along to a guitar in the room. He seemed to have been having fun with his job and enjoying it.

All in all, I found The British Music Experience to be a success. It brought me into a world where I could play, dance, interact, and learn. Upon exiting the museum, I was again placed into a dark room where a montage brought me to an audience of people. The strobe lights added to the effect. From beginning to end, I felt as though I was in a different world, and being given an experience different from the definition of a classic museum in which you feel you have to walk with your hands behind your back and there is little interaction with history.


One Comment

  1. Disco Devon says:

    I found your post good and informative. I like your article. Thanks for sharing it.