Marching Band Plays Rage

I know that this isn’t really street music, but as a former marching band musician, I can’t help but love when someone puts their own play on a contemporary song.  In this video, George Mason University‘s Green Machine plays Rage Against The Machine‘s “Killing In The Name“.  Seems pretty hard to play a song which consists primarily of rapping (very little melodic tone), but these guys found a way!


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!

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.

Where To Busk and Where Not To Busk

Busking is technically not illegal.  In fact, in many circumstances, prohibiting it is actually a violation of the First Amendment.  However, there are a few small rules that must be observed.

If you are in a public place, like a park or a street corner, there are really no laws against you performing there.  Some areas like Central Park may have designated “Quiet Areas”, but in general, the police can’t say anything unless you are disturbing the peace.  So, if there’s a scheduled event right next to you, like a wedding or a charity event, it’s best to take your guitar and find a different venue.  If you are planning to have a set audience of 20 people, though, you will need to get a permit from the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

Subway stations might be a bit of a different story.  It is a public place, so there’s technically nothing stopping you from performing there.  However, these are small, enclosed spaces where overcrowding and noise is an issue.  As such, some police officers will ask that you don’t perform on the platforms or trains.  The New York MTA offers several auditions every year for artists who want performance licenses, as part of their Arts for Transit program, so that’s definitely worth a look.

A lot of residential areas often have noise ordinance laws that prohibit you from playing.  It’s also not a good idea to perform right in front of a business, as this often has the side effect of driving customers away.  If a local resident calls in a complaint, the police may have a valid reason to ask you to stop.

Of course, different cities, and even different neighborhoods in the same city, have different laws about this, so it’s best that you do a bit of research first.  Also, this should go without saying, but avoid getting arrested.  It’s never nice to see a musician getting cuffed just for playing “Stand By Me” on a subway platform.