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Re: OT: Busking--it's hard for everyone

Yes, good article, thanks for forwarding...

if you want something to be true... it can be for you with a little help from your imagination.

You obviously lean towards thinking that North Americans are herd mentality and have lost touch with music and therefore will be more inclined to interpret the findings of the article in that light.

I, on the other hand, interpret it as a bunch of very busy people going to a place where they will do something important to them and they don't want to be to be bothered with some guy jamming on a violin no matter how good he is. How presumptuous and narcissistic it is of us musicians to think that people actually want to hear music on the way to work anyway. They've got things on their mind after all. Gearing up for the day can be great and perhaps best done in relative silence and anything other than that would be a distraction. Personally I'd rather have control over what I listen to and that's why the ipod is good. I bet a lot of those passers by had headphones on too and found the violin to be an intrusion.

I'm all for freedom but busking, for me, sucks on many levels. It can be an Intrusion, sometimes as bad as smoking cigarettes in a public place. There are good points... but not as many as bad for me. There's the rare occasion that a busker is doing something I'm remotely interested in like playing a chinese violin or using puppets. That I'll take off my headphones for... but a virtuoso classical violinist playing Schubert or a bebop guitarist playing standards? forget it. I don't care if it's Joe Pass himself, I'd rather have holes punched in my ears with toothpicks. but... of course, that's just me. So... no, if I knew it was Josh Bell or any other famous classical person I wouldn't have stopped... if it was Stevie Wonder I would have stopped. If it was Britanny Spears i would have ran the other way.

I'm a professional musician who has never busked... so of course my take is skewed towards non busking.

just keep it on topic... have any of you ambient loopers ever busked? How did you get power in the subway? I think ambient looping would be interesting busking since ambient music is all about setting a mood without being in the way of people's thoughts anyway.


On Apr 9, 2007, at 1:12 PM, Richard Sales wrote:

I thought the article was amazing not just for the actual experiment but for other snippets that occurred, like Bell denying that he is a genius and the 'if a tree falls' bit.  

The guy is obviously a top notch virtuoso and I'm dazzled that more folks didn't stop.  In a way, to me, it says something about how the importance of music has slipped for many folks.  

I also think it makes a comment about the conformity and herd mind of North America.  If folks had KNOWN he was a world famous violinist, they most certainly would have stopped - work or no work.  I mean, if Bob Dylan or Stevie Wonder or Britney Spears busked at the same train station you would have had a serious gridlock of gawkers and listeners.  BUT! If someone equally as good and creative (this adjective does not apply to Ms Spears) did it and wasn't recognizable as a 'famous' person they would have been shined on just like J Bell.  I found it very fascinating and high protein food for thought. 

I think it would be a fun experiment to repeat the experiment but with the Washington Post cameras in full view and maybe some bodyguards there to show that this was an important person.  I bet the results would be quit different.  And that would be telling.

And I think it says a lot about our vocation (or hobby maybe) for some.  And it should be sweet solace for those who know they are very gifted and working at Wal Mart.  The moral might be, "Fame has its advantages." And it also brings to mind the brilliant human observation, "To them that have more shall be given."

richard sales