Where Do You Place Your Voice?

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January 31, 2010
By Posted in Union Square Subway Station | 3 Comments »

Remi, the Haitian singer/guitar player, was at the Music Under New York busking spot at the 14th street subway station when I got there. He has been there for an hour, he said. He likes to play at St. Marks Place, near where he lives. He has been there for 10 years now and has a great small apartment where he pays only $600 a month!
Since the earthquake at Haiti I have been thinking about Remi, wondering if he might have family he is worried about. It turns out that Remi doesn’t have any family in Haiti any more.


Two people remarked to me on how few musicians there are in the subway. A couple of tourists from Berlin said: “There is nothing in the subway”. I explained that it’s because it’s a Monday. Most buskers take Monday off. I take the weekend off, even though these are good days to busk, and I don’t mind busking on Mondays, even though it is very slow.

A lady told me that she is a classical singer and asked me where I place my voice. I explained that I am not singing – it’s the sound of the musical saw that sounds similar to a woman’s voice. I demonstrated to her how I play, keeping my mouth tightly shut, or talking to her while playing, so that she will see that I am not singing. The lady said that she is amazed, because the placement of the voice is perfect with the musical saw. She said that I would be a good teacher for singers – singers could learn from listening to the musical saw about how the voice should be placed.
I guess that’s why some call the musical saw a ‘singing saw’ :)

Two men changed the inside of one of the public phones in the station. How nice that there are still public phones!

public phone

At 3:10pm Don Witter, the guitar player, showed up for his permitted time slot at the spot. He said that he doesn’t mind playing on Mondays, either.


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3 Responses to Where Do You Place Your Voice?

  1. Gappy on February 1, 2010 at 8:16 am

    Hello, it’s Gappy here. I popped over to say thank you for the kind comment you left on my blog – and I’m blown away! Your saw sounds beautiful, really melodic and haunting. I’ve never heard anyone play a saw before. I’m going to send out a tweet directing my followers to your site to have a listen.

    Happy busking.


  2. elizasmom on February 3, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    What an interesting conversation with the classical singer. It reminded me that one of the most striking pieces I heard at the Saw Festival last year was the one where the saw duet with the opera singer (sorry, don’t remember the name) because of the uncanny way the saw sound blended with her voice. Very eery/beautiful.

    By the way, I hope you’re doing another Saw Festival, because I really enjoyed the last one and I want to bring some friends with me for the next one!

  3. Saw Lady on February 5, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Hi Eliza’s Mom,

    I am so glad that you liked the piece with the singer at the Musical Saw Festival because… I just recorded it for my 2nd album!
    Thank you so much for your kind words (on a previous post) encouraging me to continue blogging. I apologize I was absent from the blogosphere for a while – working on my 2nd album (to be released late March) has occupied much of my time lately… The album features a few of the pieces from the past two Musical Saw Festivals.

    The 8th annual NYC Musical Saw Festival is scheduled for Saturday, July 17th (details: http://www.MusicalSawFestival.org ). This time I will have a 9 piece band playing with me – I’m really looking forward to that!
    It would be wonderful to see you at the festival again. Thank you so much for planning to come and to bring some friends with you – much appreciated!!!

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