The music of New Orleans is the living product of dynamic cultural interactions played out over centuries in this diverse southern port city. While the city’s music is often characterized by a single style, rhythm, or beat, the reality is much more layered and complex. A debt of authorship is owed to all who have lived—by force or by choice—in these curves of the Mississippi River. Their varied histories are inextricably tied to the city’s distinctive musical heritage. New Orleans Medley: Sounds of the City, opening January 19, 2019, explores how the interactions between many musical cultures shaped the city’s music.

Selections from THNOC’s extensive musical holdings weave the narrative of the city’s rich musical story. Visitors will see the first music published in New Orleans, tickets from the French Opera House, Jelly Roll Morton’s handwritten sheet music, Manuel Manetta’s trumpet and Sidney Bechet’s clarinet, video footage of Mardi Gras Indians from the 1970s, and much more.

Sacred songs, opera arias, and the tresillo beats of second-line drums are among the sounds of the city celebrated in New Orleans Medley.