Ever See Anyone Play The Saw?

There are a lot of strange musical instruments out there.  The didjeridu is a giant pipe that plays a barely-audible bass tone.  The organ has hundreds of little nobs, keys, pedals, and switches to create several different sounds.  The theremin plays eerie music without anyone even touching it.

But I have never seen anyone play a saw:

You heard me right.  A saw creates a slight tone when a violin bow is rubbed on the smooth edge.  By bending the saw, you create different tones.

If you live in the New York area and have been on the subways, you may have seen this woman perform.  Her name is Natalia Paruz, the “Saw Lady”, and she has perpetuated playing the saw as an art form.  She has performed with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Westchester Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Royal Air Moroccan Symphony Orchestra.  She has performed all over the world, including in the New York subways.

You can find more information about her on her website: http://www.sawlady.com/.

You can also learn about her busking on her blog: http://www.sawlady.com/.


Subway performers cleaning up on the rails – NYPOST.com

Anybody see any buskers in the cars of the New York Subway?  Well, this past Holiday Season was a big one  for them!

Several New York buskers have been raking in the dough this season, with some making as much as $50 an hour.  Usually it’s drunks and yuppies that give the most money, and the Holiday Season is the best time to find people like that on the subway!

It is legal to perform music on the train, but if you are impeding passengers and asking for money, the MTA or NYPD can charge you.  Still, there is no shortage of brave buskers gracing passengers with their music.

Subway performers cleaning up on the rails – NYPOST.com.

Video: The Forum Norwich hosts charity busking with tiny guitars – News – Norwich Evening News

These are some of my favorite stories.  The Norwich Ukulele Society (yes, you heard right) performed outside the Forum of Norwich, England to raise money for charities working with children.

Here’s a video of them:

I know, they are a lot like those carolers you see going door-to-door singing Christmas tunes.  Of course, those carolers often don’t have ukuleles or CD for sale, so I guess these guys have the advantage.

Video: The Forum Norwich hosts charity busking with tiny guitars – News – Norwich Evening News.

Reflections on the Project (So Far)

This project has been a labor of love.  I’ve always loved music, especially music from buskers.  To me, seeing a busker perform revealed the very essence of music, that of pure joy and connectivity.  I soon realized that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.  Millions of people around the world share a love of buskers and their music, which is why there are so many festivals and films out there celebrating them.  However, there is not much in the way of an actual online community on the subject outside from Google Discussion Groups.  Naturally, I decided to start my own.

Sound of the City Streets started out on Blogger.  My original goal was to simply document several different instances of buskers performing in the streets and subways of New York.  While it served its purpose of displaying updates well, it didn’t offer much in the way of functionality and professionalism.  After a few weeks, I decided to switch to Google Sites.  It was a free service that didn’t require much coding knowledge, so I was able to maintain it for a while.

The original Sound of the City Streets webpage, hosted in Google Sites.


It didn’t take long for me to realize I really wasn’t able to keep documenting buskers.  There were far too many sites, even entire documentaries, that did just that, and since anonymity is important to many buskers, very few of them consented to being photographed.  This is why I decided to solely focus on the community aspect, providing buskers and busker enthusiasts the chance to share their experiences, their work, and their passion with other like-minded individuals.

I was able to start a forum on Google Groups, as well as a Facebook page and a Twitter account.  However, while the Facebook and Twitter integration was successful in bringing users in, the forum just didn’t get off the ground.  No one was interested in joining a sketchy-looking forum, especially not one where you had to immediately divulge all your information.  I wracked my brain looking for another avenue to display this project, until one day, it hit me:

English: WordPress Logo

I should use WordPress!

Setting up a blog on WordPress is just as easy as Blogger, but it has a lot of added functionality that Blogger lacks.  It is also part of a larger blog community, which helps spread the word of this project. This blog has only been active for a week, and it has already brought in 170 views!  It took the Google site weeks to get that kind of number!  This project even got attention from other artists, which was a huge oart of my original goal.

So, what now?  Well, I plan to keep on adding to it.  I plan to add more and more functionality to the WordPress, spread the word of this project to others within the community (and without), and perhaps seek some backers to help this project go to the next level.  My goal is to connect people through a common love for buskers, and with people like you, I believe that I can do just that!

Don’t ban the buskers | thevillager.com

Currently, there is a huge debate between buskers and the New York City Parks and Recreation.  There have been several new regulations limiting where buskers can perform, specifically in Union Square and Washington Square.

Under the new rules, buskers can’t perform in Union Square’s Southern Plaza, or perform within 50 feet from any monuments or 5 feet from a park bench in Washington Square Park.  The reason for these regulations is to prevent congestion and allow unobstructed views of the monuments.

Don’t ban the buskers | thevillager.com.

Presenting My Project

Hey all,
I’m presenting this project to my professor today.  To better match the theme for it, I’m going “undercover” here as a busker!


I don't know if you can tell by looking, but I'm holding a djembe under my arm.

This, or course, does not at all mean I’m gonna stop right after I present.  In fact, this class is just the beginning.  I plan to continue Sound of the City Streets well after I receive my final grade!  I even plan to improve on it as I go!

So stay tuned!

International Street Performing Documentary by Belle Crawford — Kickstarter

This is a documentary project started by a few first-time filmmakers almost a year ago.  They traveled to 40 cities in 5 continents filming various street performers, and now they are looking for support from people like us!

Here’s an example of some of their work.  You can pledge any amount (minimum of $1) to support them.  They really need your help, as there is only 4 days left to donate!  This is really something that the busking community should be interested in!