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Specialized ProfessionIamA Antonio Domingos, The fastest Piano player in the world, and now Guinness World Record Holder AMA!

Sep 15th 2017 by AntonioDomingos • 32 Questions • 212 Points

Hi Reddit, we are the Cody Firearms Museum here to answer questions. We are a museum in NW Wyoming near Yellowstone and we have over 7,000 firearms and 28,000+ related artifacts in our collection. We interpret the history of firearms from the 1400s to the present. Our oldest firearm dates to at least the fifteenth century and our newest was made last year. We are the repository for the Winchester Factory Collection & Corporate Archive, the Eli Whitney Jr. Collection, the Benjamin Butler Collection, and the Edwin Pugsley Collection. We also have the archives of Schuyler, Hartley, & Graham, Marlin, L.C. Smith, and Ithaca.

We are part of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, which includes the Whitney Western Art Museum, Plains Indian Museum, Buffalo Bill Museum, Draper Natural History Museum, and McCracken Research Library. The Center is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and we currently planning a major renovation of our museum. If you want to search our collection go here for objects, or here for archival material, or just check our post history. Our Curator, Ashley, and Assistant Curator, Danny, are here to answer your questions for the next couple of hours. Ask us about firearms history, museums, or whatever.

Twitter proof.

Or check us out on Facebook or Instagram.

Update: Thanks for the questions everyone! We had fun. We have to run to meetings, but if you have more ask and we'll check back.

Q:

What does your warm up regimen consist of?

A:

What is the fuddiest thing you have heard from museum patrons?


Q:

I hold a pen in each hand between my thumb and pinkie, and play on the table for at least half an hour as if I were playing octaves gradually speeding up, until the blood gets rushing and the temperature of my fingers drops. This significantly increases traction and stimulates my hands and fingers.

A:

We heard a great story yesterday about how John Browning invented semi-autos by putting a spoon on the end of a barrel. We also heard a good story about how someone's Model 1886 Winchester took part in the Battle of Little Bighorn, which happened in 1876.


Q:

different animal, same beast

A:

I got a chance to meet some of your team at the Ohio Gun Collector's Association show last weekend; they were showing me their process for looking up Winchester serials and deciphering all of the old factory records and ledgers you guys have access to. Super dense, flowery old-timey handwriting, notes sideways in the margins, strike-throughs and corrections...enough to drive somebody mad.

So aside from being forced to get really familiar with Winchester factory foremen shorthand and 130 year old abbreviations and slang, what's the most surprising/interesting thing you've unearthed about how the business was run and guns were made back in that time?


A:

How most of John Browning's designs were modified before they made it to production. It was a combination of design genius and production know how.


Q:

So how did you get into playing the piano?

A:

Two different kinds of genius; inventing a thing, and adapting it to mass production.


Q:

I knew that I loved music when I was 2, had a desire to play it by the time I was 6, and started playing when I was 7.

A:

We have the Winchester's drawing collection, two-thirds of it is how to make the tools to make the guns.


Q:

How does it feel doing an iama at the same time as Seth Macfarlane and watching him fail horribly at answering questions?

A:

Why not an actual shooting range with some less rare guns?


Q:

Honestly, I had NO idea whatsoever Seth McFarlane was set to do a iAMA at this time (apparently it's not even in the schedule), and I guess it's kind of bad karma hehehehe......

A:

We have talked about starting a collection of non-accessioned firearms for the purpose of shooting, but it would be difficult, we don't really have the staff or facility to make that happen. The range in town does a really good job already giving people a chance to shoot reproductions.


Q:

It's almost like "Ask Me Anything" is too complicated for Mr. MacFarlane. Be happy that your AMA won't end up in r/AMAdisasters Antonio.

A:

Did most of the firearms come from donations? I can't imagine the cost of purchasing that many antiques off the market.


Q:

LOL! XD

A:

Haha if only I had that kind of money. About 4,000 of our 7,000 guns came from the Winchester Arms Collection. It was started in the 1860s by Oliver Winchester and includes guns from all of history. The other collections are from individuals and gun companies...but if we find something super awesome, we do try to buy it


Q:

At what speed do you play the Transcendental ├ętudes (if you play them)?

A:

On a scale of 1 to Houston how wet were you when Based Gun Jesus Ian was shooting at your museum?


Q:

You mean Liszt's TEs? The hardest ones, Mazeppa and Eroica, I played really fast. The next hardest ones that I've played, Feux Follets and Wild Jagd, I play at a normal tempo. And the easiest one that I've played, Harmonies du Soir (not that it's easy!) I play really, REALLY slowly. So it turns out the harder they are, the faster I play them!

A:

Florida? He also brought me whiskey so that was nice. I drank it all, so he should come back - Ashley


Q:

Any particular reason for choosing the B7 key?

A:

Nice. Do you know if that made Karl jealous?


Q:

The further to right you go on the keyboard, the lighter the key. I chose B7 instead of the highest key on the keyboard to avoid accidentally slamming my fingers into the side block.

A:

Not sure, but Karl should come sometime.


Q:

What aspects of other musicians' songs do you draw most inspiration or influence from for your own original work?

A:

Why did you find it important to mention that you are millenials in your title post?


Q:

I hardly ever compose, but I used to improvise a bit when I was in my early and mid-20s. I can't really put my finger on what it sounded like, but sometomes it sounded like morbid Gothic music, others like 60's hippie music, at times like Celtic-inspired maritime themes, at other times like some ethereal alternative music. It never really sounded "Classical".

A:

Because it seems to not be what people expect when they hear "Arms Curator" - Danny

Because it's better than saying I'm a girl - Ashley


Q:

Thanks for the great response!

Since you rarely compose, do you ever find yourself pulling styles from other musicians when playing a musicians piece? For example, if you're playing a song by musician A, do you ever find your playing style being influenced by musician B or C? I guess another way to phrase my question would be, do you find yourself playing renditions that pull influences from other artists, other than the artist who composed the piece you're playing?

Or do you find that you are more likely to stick to the original design/style the song was meant for?

A:

Ah mah gerd, a girl! Quick, hide the porn.


Q:

Yes, if I've heard the piece before, it's almost inevitable that I'll unwittingly imitate the performance that I've heard, but I do something which really helps to rid myself of other influences and find my own voice- I literally forbid myself to listen to that rendition-it's a question of self-discipline- and almost invariably, after a few weeks or months, or whatever, I end up playing my own way! I sometimes go back to listen to that recording and for the most part, I usually find that I've shed most imitation. I feel that every serious musician should, in fact, avoid imitation to the fullest possible extent and find his or her own voice. As for 'sticking to the original style', we can only get a glimpse of it by either being guided by a master, or, as I would much prefer, researching the historical era and important events that were happening at the time of the composition of a particular piece.


Q:

That's a very fascinating response. I would have never thought that historical events, let alone anything outside of notation really, could influence the style in which a song can be played.

Thanks for taking the time to respond to me twice!

A:

What is the biggest misconception younger people have regarding firearms?


Q:

Oh yes, and don't ever let anyone convince you otherwise!...... remember, Vladimir Horowitz used to say that in order to find the meaning of the notes, one must look BEHIND them!

A:

There's so many misconceptions about guns, I could go on for days. But I think many younger people don't realize the diversity in the types of firearms that have been developed since the 1200s and also how integral firearms have been to so many different facets of history

I think there's also a common misconception too that there's a lack of younger people interested in firearms history. Bustle just did an article on millennials and firearms the other day.


Q:

The go to "fast" piece for most piano players seems to be Flight of the Bumblebee. Is there a better piece for demonstrating speed, or is there something inherent about Bumblebee that makes it easier to speed through?

A:

which of the oldest firearms require the least amount of maintenance and care (humidity, etc...)? which are the most fragile relative to their age?


Q:

It's probably the fastest to play relatively easily, and it's continuous and constant.... But trust me: anyone who says he can play all the notes in it in under 20 seconds, or even under 30 seconds, on whatever instrument, is a liar.

There are a LOT of things that are MUCH harder than Bumblebee..... simply Bumblebee has a lot of melodic notes running in rapid succession, that's why it sounds so fast.......

A:

Most of the firearms have pretty similar care requirements. So we maintain temperature and humidity. The most fragile gun we had was probably the Great Basin Winchester that went viral a few years ago. The park brought it to us to stabilize before it went on display back at Great Basin.


Q:

Can you please do a recording of Alkan Le preux? I would even buy it on Itunes
btw after your Tchaikovsky octaves i started to play this passage a lot just for fun

A:

Was that the one found leaning against a tree? Imagine being the person who found that jewel.


Q:

Yes, I'm planning on playing it, BUT not planning on recording it..... I make a pledge to play it if people would just rally together and go to my concerts. I've already started work on it, but it's not up to performance level yet..... I just hope to program it next year, as I really like it and several people have asked me to play it.....

A:

Yes it was, we still get questions about it.


Q:

Have you ever played with a fellow famous piano player such as Hiromi?


Q:

No, believe it or not......

A:

The X-ray was how we found the cartridge in the stock.


Q:

I believe it, but now you should make that happen!

A:

Haha that's like saying "You said most of your collections were Hondas. I instantly thought of my Toyota."


Q:

Yeah, I would like to play duos with a guy named Vazgen Vartanian, one of my 3 favorite pianists, but I'm going to have to find some venues first.......

A:

We've failed you, if it was Firefly or X-Files we might have been there.


Q:

Which firearm(s) are your favorites and which one(s) are you proudest of having in the collection?

A:

Our favorites change a lot based on what we are researching at the time, maybe one of the most proud is Oliver Winchester's Jennings rifle. We know it is his because of a letter he wrote which we have and we consider it the oldest reference to our collection.


Q:

What's the oldest gun you have there?

A:

We have a barrel of a hand cannon that might be 13th century, and a breechblock from a cannon that dates to the 15th century.


Q:

Dude that's so cool

A:

We think so!


Q:

Do you think the Nagant revolver shot more friendly retreating Russians or enemies during its time in use?

A:

We're not sure if it shot anything, that trigger pull is ridiculous to keep on target.


Q:

Why is it called the Cody museum?

A:

When Winchester donated their collection originally it was called the Winchester Arms Museum. When the current museum opened in 1991 Bill Ruger was on our board and wrote a million dollar check to, "Name this son of bitch anything other than a firearms manufacturer." So the board changed the name to the town's namesake, Cody. The quote is from the meeting minutes.


Q:

This may be sorta off topic, but is there a lot of interest in firearms history in the academic arena? Do you ever see PhD candidates doing their dissertations in firearms history going through your doors?

A:

We occasionally get some form of academic research in firearms, but it's limited. It's something we want to encourage since we think we have some great primary resources for it, but it is pretty niche in the academic world.


Q:

That's unfortunate :(. It's been my dream to one day quit my job and get a PhD in history researching something I'm actually passionate about.

A:

It's not impossible, but it is a narrow track.


Q:

Other than visiting the museum, how can the public help support the museum, make donations, etc.

Are there any programs or workshops offered to patrons where they can get hands on experience with replicas?

A:

We are currently fundraising an $8million dollar renovation. So if anyone wants to help with that give us a shout!

We offer educational programs all summer where visitors can get hands on with replicas. We will have more educational and hands on opportunities when the renovated museum opens in 2019. But by next summer we would like to do a joint venture with the local gun range where you get a tour of the museum in the morning and then head over to the gun range and shoot reproductions of the historic guns you saw


Q:

Is there a firearm in the collection you looked at for the first time and thought, "what was the designer thinking?(!)"

A:

We have a gun on loan from the Smithsonian called the Josselyn Chain Revolver. It is the patent model. It is a tiny pistol with a large bicycle- like chain that functions like a cylinder...only not at all


Q:

Have you ever shot a Winchester 1895 in 7.62x54r? And can you give me one?

A:

Haven't shot one before, but we do have some. They gotta stay here though.


Q:

Are you hiring?

A:

Not right now, but we do take paid interns during the summer.


Q:

Where would one apply for that internship position, on the website?

A:

https://centerofthewest.org/learn/internships/

2018 positions will probably be posted in January.


Q:

Would your collection happen to include any shotguns from Japan in the late 1800s [Meiji Restoration-era]?

I know pistols and rifles were most common in that time period for Japan, but I haven't found much about shotguns.

A:

Unfortunately not, our collection is weaker when it comes to Asian firearms.


Q:

Perhaps I missed it but is the COdy Firearms Museum all your doing or did you guys just take over from a previous curator?

A:

The original iteration of the museum was known as the Winchester Arms Museum, which opened in 1976, then it became the Cody Firearms Museums in 1991. So we have a long line of Curators to follow.


Q:

What's your rarest British piece?

A:

It's a close competition. We have an EM-2, an English Wheelock made in the 1600s with provenance through most of its life, and the only surviving Brown Bess from the Colonial 51st Regiment.


Q:

Because you can find old white dudes talking about guns anywhere

A:

We didn't think too much about it, apparently we should have.


Q:

What futuristic or fake gun do you wish you could own?

A:

The Burton is pretty space rifley, but we have it. I'd really like to get some sci-fi movie prop guns in the collection - Danny

Zoe's Mare's Leg - Ashley


Q:

What does the museum's collection of more modern guns look like?

A:

Our modern collection is rather sad although we are always trying to improve it. When we got the Winchester Collection on loan in 1975, we had firearms pretty much up until that date. Without the corporate collecting from Winchester, it's been difficult to keep adding current firearms - especially ones that people don't consider historic. We do have a great Glock exhibit though!