Rockin’ Violin in Penn Station

Being one of the busiest train stations in the country, Penn Station is a great place to see buskers.  Just the other day, I saw this man playing the violin to the instrumental versions of popular songs.  Some of the songs he played included Lynard Skynard‘s “Sweet Home Alabama” and Led Zeppelin‘s “Kashmir”.


Subway performers cleaning up on the rails –

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 –

A Bit of a Heads Up

Hello all,

As you may have guessed, I haven’t been able to put up many posts as of late.  I was really hoping to keep this going, and perhaps even improve it.  What I didn’t count on, however, was the fact that I won’t be in New York after the end of the semester.

As I said in my About Me page, I am a grad student, but I also live in student residence while I’m studying.  When there’s a semester break, I live in New Jersey.  Now, normally I would jump at more chances to visit the city, but with money being tight and all, I just don’t see that happening.

Therefore, I will be limiting my posts to a few times a week.  Obviously, there won’t be much in the way of documenting performances, but I will definitely try my best to give you all the latest busking news, busking facts, and busking events.

Please don’t misunderstand; this project will still be going on.  I’m just limiting some of the time I’m putting into it for now.  Come late January, I’m definitely gonna be doing more.

To those of you who have been keeping up with this, thank you so much!

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 |

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 |

Urban Instruments

Sound of the City Streets is mainly focused on buskers, but occasionally I like to shift my focus on urban instruments.  These are installations that create music through either physical interaction or some other stimuli.  One good example of urban instruments is REACH: New York.

REACH is an installation in New York’s 34 St – Herald Square subway station that makes different tones based on who is “playing” it.  When you put your hand over one of the open ports, a motion sensor picks up that movement and produces a tone.

This is the brainchild of Christopher Janney, founder of PhenomenArts, Inc..  You can see more of his urban instruments at his website.

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!