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!


Sound of the City Streets 10/11

I was walking through the Union Square subway 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!

Sound of the City Streets Update 10/7

Here are a couple of hand drummers playing djembe at Washington Square Park.  The djembe is a traditional West African drum with animal hide stretched over a wooden barrel-like body.  The trademark hourglass shape contributes to a deep sound when hit.  It produces a variety of sounds depending on how and where on the drum head you hit it.  For instance, striking it with your palm hitting the rim creates a deep bass sound, while tapping the rim with your fingertips creates a lighter, less sustained tone.
There was also a little kid who was really into the sound of the drums playing.  I often see kids marveling at someone playing a drum in a park or on the street.  I guess it’s something in the beat that appeals to hyperactive minds of youngsters.  I should know; it was seeing drummers perform on the street that inspired me to learn percussion!
This is an older photo I took at the Atlantic Antic last Sunday.  It was a huge street fair on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, with vendors, food carts, and performers dotting the entire length of the street.  This percussionist here in particular was really interesting.  You can see the drum under his arm that he’s playing, but if you look closely at the bottom of the frame, there’s also pieces of a drum set.  He used the foot pedal on the bass drum while he was playing the drum he was holding, providing an interesting variety of sounds.
I also found a few great places for information about street performers.  The first is a little more official:
The next one is a similar project.  It is a little more fleshed-out, though:
The MTA has a bit of information about performers.  It’s a lot more official, with auditions and licenses:
There’s even a few documentaries out there, like this one:
In the next few weeks, I will be documenting some of the performers I see around New York, either through video or photos.  As I am also a percussionist, I will attempt to do a little busking of my own as well.  If anyone knows of any good places in Brooklyn where I can play, let me know!

Street Performers

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.

Thanks for your help!