20 People Together is a Lot
As I waited for the subway train to take me to my busking spot at 34th street, there were MTA workers taking a break on the platform. One leaned a ladder against the wall. Then I saw what they were doing – new white speakers were placed by the ceiling every 10 feet. This is bad news for buskers – with a new sound system, I hope the MTA won’t start pumping canned music into the stations. This will be the end of live music in the subway. Or, more likely, this will be the beginning of a volume war – buskers will mic themselves and crank up their amps to overpower the streamed-in canned music, the way buskers already do at the LIRR station. I don’t play there because I’m not amplified. But a situation like that would force me to amplify.
At the Music Under New York busking spot at the 34th street subway station, Juan and a friend were playing ‘My Heart Will Go On’ (theme from ‘Titanic’) on pan-flute and Charango mandolin. We talked about the new speakers in the subway stations.
Juan and his friend were going to busk at Times Square now.
As I was about to begin playing, a homeless looking gentleman I often see when I play in the subway came by and introduced me to his grandson, a teenage kid. He wanted his grandson to hear the musical saw.
A gentleman named Wolfgang told me that he translated a book titled ‘Exodus of the Musicians’ by Per Olov Enguist, from Swedish to German. The musical saw is mentioned and discribed thoroughly in this book, he said. In 19th century Sweden lumberjacks played the musical saw. Wolfgang now lives in Provence, France, where it’s very rural. Visiting NYC is a culture shock for him: “For me seeing 20 people together was a lot”, he said. In NYC he is faced with thousands of people everywhere… He is travelling Canada & the USA by Grayhound bus with his 20 year old son, who is into hip-hop and rap music.