Unusual musical instruments to discover with the family

We visited the Centre du patrimoine de la facture instrumentale, a conservation and research institution for musical instruments, where we discovered unusual musical instruments from all over the world, in the company of the director of the CPFI.

Susann Chuchollek is the director of the Centre du patrimoine de la facture instrumentale (CPFI) and welcomes us to Le Mans in the midst of a heterogeneous collection of musical instruments from the ends of the earth and from the depths of time.

Unusual instruments

The musical bow is one of the curiosities that make up the collection of the CPFI. This ancestor of the jaw harp dates back to the dawn of humanity. There are rock paintings that attest to its use in France 15,000 years ago. This instrument is basically a hunting bow quite rudimentary. The mouth serves as a sounding board when the hand or a tool hits the string.

Would this be one of the first hijackings of an object useful for artistic purposes?

Traces of this instrument can be found in cave paintings.

Another hijacking with a gypsy violin that immediately catches our attention is an instrument made of strings stretched between a coconut and a broomstick. It makes a strange sound when played. “I don’t have the sounding board to play this instrument,” Susann admits, “because I need a big belly,” she adds.

These are just two curiosities among the 3,000 musical instruments that make up the CPFI collection.

A museum to touch

The Centre for Instrumental Heritage is not an archive centre in which musical instruments are kept. It has an educational role. Normally, it welcomes schoolchildren and offers activities, exhibitions and discovery sessions. It is not a museum; here you should be able to touch and discover the sounds and sensations produced by musical instruments.

These instruments also tell the story of man and his migrations. During their travels in Europe, the Gypsies, for example, have left behind them traces of their culture that allow us to date their passage. The CPFI tells the history of peoples by telling the story of their music.


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