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Meet the inventors and innovators 

who defined American music history! 

A German carpenter immigrated to New York City, determined to design the greatest piano in the world.  The inventor of 3-D glasses dreamed of putting an electric organ in every home.  And an engineering physicist discovered he could shape electricity into sound.  Henry Steinway, Laurens Hammond, and Bob Moog are among the musical pioneers who changed the way music is played and how we hear it. 

SCAN_01_MA Henry Engelhard Steinway       Laurens-signed photo[1]       einsteinbob

                                                Steinway                       Hammond                          Moog

Some of these trailblazers were musicians, such as William Ludwig, inventor of the first practical drum pedal, and C.G. Conn, founder of the world-famous band instrument company.  Others were born into instrument-making families, such as Avedis Zildjian III and Frederick Martin, whose own descendants went on to create cymbals and guitars that are among the finest.  Leo Fender was a radio repairman and not a musician at all.  Yet he created the Fender electric guitar, now a musical icon.

 ludwigsr     young_conn     B5     CFSr and Otilia     youngleo

               Ludwig                      Conn                              Zildjian                           Martin                       Fender

With Raggin' Jazzin' Rockin', noted music writer Susan VanHecke offers a fascinating, insider view of the personalities and perseverance that led to some of music's most important innovations - from classical to jazz to rock.  

Illustrated in full color, the book includes more than 200 photos, many rare and vintage, plus detailed source notes.

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 Learn how musical instruments are made and how they work!


Learn who plays which instruments and why!


Learn about American music history, including country, jazz, and rock!


Read a Chapter!

Click on the image to read chapter 1, Zildjian: Cymbals Through the Centuries!


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Susan VanHecke is the author of many books about music, including Rock 'N' Roll Soldier: A Memoir, with Dean Ellis Kohler, foreword by Graham Nash; Roadwork: Rock & Roll Turned Inside Out, with Tom Wright, foreword by Pete Townshend; Three Steps to Heaven: The Eddie Cochran Story, with Bobby Cochran; and Race With the Devil: Gene Vincent's Life in the Fast Lane. She lives in Virginia.

  © 2024 Susan VanHecke