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CNN Today

Experience Music Project Opens

Aired June 23, 2000 - 1:24 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: So you're a multibillionaire who loves music and computers and you want to share you passions with the world. What do you do?

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: If you are Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, you build a quarter-billion dollar interactive music museum.

And if you're CNN, you send Gina London to Seattle to cover it.

Hi, Gina.

GINA LONDON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Natalie.

This is quite a coveted job I have got here today, I can tell you. I am inside EMP's showcase hall, if you will. It's called Sky Church. It's 85-feet high, and this is the realization of Jimi Hendrix's vision of a place where people from all races and backgrounds can come together and actually gather and appreciate music. EMP is going to be using this great hall for sort of sensory overload productions, video showings, and also for a place for musicians to gather and play here at night.

Now this is just one fraction of EMP, and earlier this morning there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony that was a little more rock'n'roll than ribbon-cutting. Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, and his sister, the executive director here of the museum, Jodi Allen Patton, were on hand along with the cutting-edge architect Frank O. Gehry for this opening ceremony, to what really is an incredible harmonic blend of music and technology.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LONDON (voice-over): What do you get when the co-founder of Microsoft, with a passion for Jimi Hendrix, wants to create a hit? A $240 million high-tech rock'n'roll adventure called Experience Music Project.

PAUL ALLEN, EMP CREATOR: The technology really is an enabler to get people into the idea of making their own music and enjoying the music more.

LONDON: Whether it's a cyclone of guitars spiraling up to the ceiling or an evolution encased in glass, at every twist and turn there's a chance to interact. Each visitor, in fact, gets a personal computer called MEG, Musical Exhibit Guide.

PAUL ZUMWALT, DESIGN DIRECTOR, EMP: It is essentially a little hard drive that you walk around with, and infrared remote control and headphones. You've got 13 hours of content that every exhibit is interacted.

LONDON: So if you're playing drums with George Clinton or guitar with Nirvana, technology is always there.

ZUMWALT: Over there we have got the actual song lyric book that Jimi wrote his lyrics on, and what we've done is then we've digitized that block. And you can then listen to it as it was written.

LONDON: The floors covering the 140,000-square-foot building are raised, hiding enough data cable to circle the globe twice.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LONDON: And now to keep people coming back again and again to the EMP, Experience Music Project, the tech curators here say that there's a commitment to actually updating about 20 percent of all the exhibits in the museum every year, Lou and Natalie. They say that's because not only does technology change, but of course, so too does the music.

Reporting live at EMP, I'm Gina London.

ALLEN: Thanks, Gina.

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