Friday, April 13, 2007

Busking and Democracy

Yep, out here on the streets...everyone may think they are a superstar...but busking is like blogging. It turns into a level playing field, or does it?

This post is inspired for you Mister Anchovy. Good luck tomorrow because apparently, there really is room for everybody.

12 comments:

mister anchovy said...

See the post at Saw Lady.

This sort of stuff makes me cranky. It is a kind of twisted journalism usually reserved for contemporary artists, proving beyond dispute that a 4 year old child could make that painting.

The fact that buddy is a great player doesn't make him even a halfway decent busker. As well, when you busk, you can't normally target the musical tastes of your audience - on the classical stage, buddy gets an audience of people who dig his chops already.

It's been too cold to busk since I got my permit. Maybe I'll get out this weekend.

Candy Minx said...

Right...I should have added in my post that when a person is busking they are selling their personality as much, if not more, than their talent or trade.

Oh I also thought this was a ridiculously written article too and ignorant of performance skills and the history of street performers.

Gardenia said...

Hmmm, this wasn't practical - at 7:50 in the a.m.? I wonder how many people are like me, running or going over the speed limit with a coffee in one hand, a cell phone or makeup in the other hand or a brush - wondering if I had rushed the other people in my life too much in order to get everyone going on time, or getting the stress adrenalin going.......with 8 pm looming as the magic time before you get in big trouble if you aren't seating at your desk......

I think the author of the article was not only ignorant of performance skills and street performers, but the average man on the street going to work....

I like to watch street performers or engage with them, but on a Saturday or evening when I am not intent on meeting the deadline of the daily grind...

Gardenia said...

oooope - 8 a.m.

Amy Ruttan said...

I love buskers.

I was so bummed because here in London we had this great trumpet player. I loved the summer time and I would go and listen to him play.

He packed it in last year because of people cursing at him, and becoming phsyically violent. Some people just drive me crazy.

L.M. said...

I bitched about this experiment elsewhere. I didn't like it because they refuse to acknowledge the glamour necessary for the kind of career that Joshua Bell apparently enjoys. Those sexy tuxedos spot lit in beautiful concert halls are part of the package. We know that and he knows that, so this whole thing was disingenuous from the start. Washington post was looking for their stupid little "gotcha" moment.

The great thing is that he gave a unsolicited gift to seemingly uninterested people in an unexpected place. Nice if it had been left at that.

I've heard brilliant moving performances from unrecognized musicians, we all have, it's a wonderful thing.

D said...

That article just aggravates me. It's a pompous piece that has nothing to do with busking ... just Gene Weingarten kissing Joshua Bell's ass.

It starts out like commentary on the hustle-n-bustle of the morning commute and even sounds like it could be an entertaining tale of "who stops to smell the roses" in the midst of a "gotta get to work" world.

But no ... it turns into a weird "I'm more cultured than you", "you don't know who you're missing", "you're so pedestrian" (no pun intended) rambling that pissed me off a bit.

First off - just because you're a top notch violinist means nothing when it comes to playin' the train station, EL station, street corner, park, etc etc. When Bell plays the MET or wherever, he's got what ... 20 feet between him & a row of seats that cost several hundred dollars each and they're filled with people who adore him. The subway is a different deal and you need to interact in this setting to make people care. Being a decent musician is half of what it takes - you gotta be approachable, intuitive & creative to catch people's ears & eyes.

Second - classical music at 7:51 AM when I'm goin' to work? zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ... of course I'm gonna keep going, my coffee hasn't kicked in quite yet & I thought I was out of the elevator already. I think Weingarten had an agenda & "stacked the deck" by choosing Mr. Bell. Ooops - I forgot, it's a brown nose article ... he must need theatre tickets.

Third (and final) - for those of us who don't fancy classical music ... Who the *&#! is Joshua Bell & why should I care? Just because someone studies & embraces classical music doesn't mean they're better than blues, rock, country or jazz musicians. To me - it just means they know how to read sheet music and wear nicer suits. So what if this classical genius is the center of this "study of human behavior", it simply points out that classical is appreciated by a minority of Americans. Then again, this wasn't a study of human nature ... it's a "stupid pedestrian, you missed your chance at culture" type of hoity-toity rambling.

Candy Minx said...

Gardenia, I'm with you about the early morning time for a violin...aggravating! And that it iwasn't a good location or anything.

L.M. Yes, it is cool that he played music for people running to work, or who "seemed" uninterested. Thats the weakness of the article is they come from no experience of street performing. Just because people run past you doesn't mean they don't like you. I run past buskers all the time if I'm in a hurry or whatever. How I respond to a busker has almost nothing to do with them...now usually though, I will stop say hello and rop some coin...but I think I'm more sensitive to the situation than most people.

D...I couldn't agree with everything you said more...even if I tried. Well said and it is a stupid "you missed your chance" They seem to be partly trying to say, "see the public doesn't know anything about art."

I had no idea who this musician was by the way...I have a very low tolerance for any classical music, unless maybe its a musical score for a movie...

John B. said...

Candy,
I just wanted to thank you for dropping by my place and to return the favor.
As for placing Joshua Bell at the entrance to a subway at rush-hour, I'd just have to say that, wonderful as music generally is, and Bell's playing in particular, this particular experiment is a bit unfair to all concerned. I wish it were more the case that we weren't so busy that we could stop whatever we're doing and listen to music, but we are. Moreover, I suspect that humans collectively have always been too busy to listen.

But not me--I have time to blog, after all.

Thanks again for coming by. I look forward to coming back.

Candy Minx said...

Hi John B,

Yes, this was an unfair situation all around. One thing that stood out to me was the author woth e article, Gene W. says that everyone rushes by the musician "complicit in a rip-off". That bothered me because street performers are working with the idea of "free will" and choice...not expecting people to all drop money in their hat. The performer takes the risk and works over a long period of time..knowing some will donate, and some will not. It isn't just expected...no one is "complicit".

As for the idea that there was a "cultural hero of the day" being the man who stood and listened and dropped 5 bucks in the hat...you make an excelleent point about people running to work in the morning.

In our culture, we are expected to work, 50-60 hours a week, to be punctual and efficient and not to waste time. So actually, the cultural heroes WERE all the people who refused to stop and smell the roses but run off to work ignoring the music.

mister anchovy said...

Ignoring the music is fair game. Sometimes though, you make connections. I've had numerous people stop by to tell me they really appreciated a certain tune (often it's The Star of Logy Bay), or they had a relative who played... Sometimes, the music will strike a nerve, an old memory. Kids are often mezmerized. Those moments are priceless. Money-wise, sometimes I do very well, and sometimes poorly, and there are all sorts of factors involved. My worst day was at some kind of doggy festival on Front St. One day I was playing outdoors and a group of Muslim women stopped by to listen. They were all dressed in long outfits with their faces covered. They were speaking in a language I couldn't identify. I was playing a cumbia. They dropped a $5 bill in my case. I've had kids - and adults - dancing, and that's beautiful.

Candy Minx said...

Mister Anchovy, I think the best situation is exactly when the performer enjoys themselves and the people, the performance (music juggling mime) and then it is an all round good experience.