As I probably mentioned many times on this blog, the thing that inspired me to play the drums is the performance known as Stomp. It’s an off-broadway performance involving percussion performances using everything from trash cans, to basketballs, to matches, and even pipes.
Check out this video! I just saw it and was reminded exactly what this project is about!
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.
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.
One night, while walking through Times Square filming for a project, I found these guys singing in the streets. I usually focus on instrumentalists, but there really is something to be said about a good barber shop quartet!
I was walking through the Union Squaresubway station, where I saw these two musicians performing. One was playing a violin, and the other a djembe. They graciously agreed to let me take these photos of them performing (of course, I gave them a donation for their troubles). In performance, the djembe player often started with a beat, while the violin player followed with a graceful melody.
That’s the beauty about busking. You don’t have to have a huge amp system, you don’t need twenty other musicians, you don’t even need an actual venue. You just play. Of course, these two most likely practiced their routine repeatedly beforehand, but the fact that they are willing to put themselves out there and play in front of millions of traveling New Yorkers is really inspiring.
As for my busking experience, I’m still working out all the variables. I’m hoping to get a guitarist and maybe a few other percussionists to accompany me, and of course someone has to document the performance via video or photos. When I do, I hope you’ll check us out!
I saw these two perform in the middle of Washington Square Park! one was playing on a traditional drum set, while the other was playing on a paint bucket.
As a drummer, I was immediately impressed by their skill! They were perfectly in sync, each one following the other, almost in unison!
So, by now you’re probably asking, “What’s this have to do with anything”? Well, I’ve decided to do this little project that explores the difficult world of busking (performing music in public places).
I have already incorporated a survey form on this blog. It would be a big help if you completed it so I can get a bit of insight on the public opinion of buskers.