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Wondering About Busking
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chuck56
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PostPosted: 2013-01-14, 14:21    Post subject: Wondering About Busking Reply with quote

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Hello All,

I have a couple questions about busking.

Performing on the street will require some extra courage on my part because I don't normally do performance. My main goal is to build my skills and especially performance nerves. I'm located in the Phoenix AZ area, so my playing time is a bit more limited than some places because of the heat.

My thought is I'd pick about 5 songs to fully memorize and play well to try some busking. That should be plenty to mix up and play short sets. Any thoughts about songs that you'd recommend for street playing?

I'm also thinking I'd get one of the small Rolland amp cubes to amplify my playing. Is it better to play amplified or natural?

All comments or recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
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Jon Kypros
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PostPosted: 2013-01-14, 18:08    Post subject: Wondering About Busking Reply with quote

Hi Chuck,

Here are some observation I've made busking and some personal choices/ideas of mine. I hope they help.

Memorizing can be useful and free you up, however, having the notation visible to people can be very interesting for them when they stop to hear you play. As to amplification I would suggest deciding based on the spot(s) you plan to play in, i.e., the natural acoustics, the surrounding shops etc. If you have a good natural acoustical situation or if you are playing near places where people want to relax, I'd forgo the amp. I've noticed that when outside you are usually much louder than you perceive your own sound. I've also found that people will get as close as they like if they really want to listen.

I usually improvise using traditional honkyoku techniques and phrasing because I find that I can adjust to the amount of people or the situation more freely than if I am locked into a piece. For example, if a small child and parents come up I can play something more light hearted for the child.

I wouldn't bring any extra shakuhachi unless you are ok with people picking them up, etc. I had one person exclaim that it's a Native American Flute and proceed to try and place the whole utaguchi end into their mouth! It was hard not to laugh under my tengai when that happened. I've also had people touch me, touch my fingers, laugh at me (as expected), take picture sup under the tengai, try to lift the tengai off! So be prepared for anything, even if not in komuso garb. Just have fun and absorb it all.

Good luck and have fun! If you have any questions please ask and maybe I can help more.
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chuck56
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PostPosted: 2013-01-14, 21:41    Post subject: Wondering About Busking Reply with quote

Thanks for the info Jon!

I've not yet made the investment in a tengai or the rest of the komuso garb. Any recommendations on where to purchase them?

I play in a park sometimes when the weather is nice. A couple times I've had little pre-school kids move little by little closer and closer until they are setting right next to me. Then between songs they clammer with questions and comments. Enjoyable stuff to see their inquisitive nature.
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J. Danza
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PostPosted: 2013-01-14, 21:45    Post subject: Wondering About Busking Reply with quote

I would also mix the repertoire with some pieces people would recognize and work great on Shakuhachi... some examples are Amazing Grace, El Condor Pasa, Scarborough Fair, etc.
If you are good at improvisation, that allows you to respond freely to the environment, and "compose" something on the spot incorporating the existing soundscape. It's a great exercise in playing and listening. The trick is, as opposed to "doing your thing", to turn the act into a meditation in which the sound of the Shakuhachi is fully blended in your open attention with all the sounds around you, and hearing the whole as a symphony.
Also, on a more subtle level, see what happens when you consciously intend your sound to carry peaceful and loving energy (a little prayer/dedication/ceremony before starting helps)
Have fun!
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Jon Kypros
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PostPosted: 2013-01-15, 01:22    Post subject: Wondering About Busking Reply with quote

chuck56 wrote:
Thanks for the info Jon!

I've not yet made the investment in a tengai or the rest of the komuso garb. Any recommendations on where to purchase them?

I play in a park sometimes when the weather is nice. A couple times I've had little pre-school kids move little by little closer and closer until they are setting right next to me. Then between songs they clammer with questions and comments. Enjoyable stuff to see their inquisitive nature.


You're most welcome. I'm glad I could help. I loved hearing about the kids making their way and asking question between songs.

I believe you can still get komuso items on mejiro shakuhachi (google mejiro). There's also a website that sells tengai here: http://japan-cc.com/komuso.htm

Just FYI they won't look like my tengai in my profile photo as I hand-wove mine and made it with different features. I'd suggest getting a Kimono off of eBay, either mon AKA mon-tsuki, or a plain Tsumigi for a more simple kimono. You can find the names in Romanji and Kanji for most all of the komuso items on my website at http://www.flutedojo.com/komuso.html
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2013-01-16, 06:28    Post subject: Wondering About Busking Reply with quote

Please don't use an amp. Busking acoustically is great for developing your stamina and tone.
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CharlesKoeppen
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PostPosted: 2013-01-17, 18:11    Post subject: Wondering About Busking Reply with quote

You do not need 5 pieces, that is probably almost an hour of music. Most people who stop to listen will only stop for a few minutes. You can probably get away with only 2, and it is a lot easier to get 2 pieces up to performance quality than 5. I have a great appreciation for what artists who perform concerts do. It is very difficult to get a full hour of music up to performance quality. And always when performing, remember that the listeners want to hear you do well, for me that helps ease the nerves some.
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PostPosted: 2013-01-17, 19:19    Post subject: Wondering About Busking Reply with quote

Jon Kypros wrote:
... laugh at me (as expected)...


Laughter is a good thing, right? Even if it isn't the performer's intention, at least you made someone's day more enjoyable with no harm to anyone.
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Lorka
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PostPosted: 2013-01-18, 17:24    Post subject: Wondering About Busking Reply with quote

I like what Jon said. Do stuff that allows you to improv.

Feel free to disagree, but here are some suggestions....

Tsuki and Sanson no Yugure (Mt. Village at Dusk). Both, but particularly the latter, allows for lots of "special effects". The Mountain Village piece is supposed to evoke the image of bugs coming out at night and making noise. You can really go to town and improv on that one.

I would stay away from suicidal, depressing pieces, or super repettitive ones, like Kyorei.

Honshirabe might be a good one to throw in for kicks. Pick stuff you know well, and would not be shy altering on the spot depending on your mood and that of the crowd.

Just suggestions, mind you. If I was out in the public I would have those ones on my list.
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Paul Gardner
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PostPosted: 2013-01-19, 10:07    Post subject: Wondering About Busking Reply with quote

Where would you find a good recording of Sanson no Yugare? I like the sound of that piece Very Happy

I'm no way near busking level on shakuhachi but I used to busk playing Indian Tabla while a friend played the flute. We always picked a spot that had great acoustic qualities like natural reverb. Also somewhere that offers a little bit of protection from the elements is useful. There was always a race on Saturday morning to get down to the pedestrian subway before the other buskers claimed the pitch. Usually there was just a friendly rivalry but sadly, in some areas, buskers can get a bit possessive about their territories.

No amps. It stops the raw sound of the instrument interacting with the surroundings.

Just my opinion though Very Happy
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Daniel Ryudo
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PostPosted: 2013-01-19, 11:44    Post subject: Wondering About Busking Reply with quote

Summertime, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Tamuke... Yes, I agree with the comments about no amps; try to find a place with natural amplification.
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2013-01-19, 15:44    Post subject: Wondering About Busking Reply with quote

Lorka wrote:

I would stay away from suicidal, depressing pieces


What dose be? Crying or Very sad
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Lorka
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PostPosted: 2013-01-21, 15:38    Post subject: Wondering About Busking Reply with quote

Hey, don't get me wrong now, I love shakuhachi.... but I have been told by regular civilians (i.e. non shakuhachi players) that some of the pieces I have either played or had them listen to from CD's, have a kind of sombre, mournful, sadness to them. My partner has often told me to stop what I am playing and do something more cheerful. When I try to explain that the flute is in the minor pentatonic scale and not built to be chipper, I get "the look", as in "cheer up sucker, or you will soon be beaten about the head with that fancy bamboo stick". So, I improvise some cheerful chirping noises for awhile, then go back to practice. This whole slightly morose reaction always struck me as odd. When I am practising I try to be emotionally neutral, so I always find it odd when my partner makes some comment (either positive or negative) about the emotional or tonal quality. I'm not trying to evoke a certain mood, but people seem to project mood onto the sound. I guess the mind tries to attach an emotional and semantic dimension to frame any type of sound experience. Others in the forum who actually perform would know better than me about that though. I should say for the record, I don't think shakuhachi is depressing. I like to think that it has a philosophical, inward looking, searching type of sound to it, but that's me. So, when I speak of depressing pieces, I am mainly referring to the types of reaction you would get from civilians.
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PostPosted: 2013-01-21, 17:10    Post subject: Wondering About Busking Reply with quote

Lorka wrote:
but I have been told by regular civilians (i.e. non shakuhachi players) that some of the pieces I have either played or had them listen to from CD's, have a kind of sombre, mournful, sadness to them.


Don't worry, many musicians, dancers, and other people who should really know better misinterpret slow pieces of any style of music as sad. I've participated in modern dance workshops open to "non-dancers" (which gets to me too, because even though I'm nowhere near a pro level I have quite a bit of swing, tango, hustle, English country, etc... experience) where highly trained dancers interpret the slow movements of European classical and other pieces by putting on a sad face and exuding sadness only to find that the teacher raves about what they did, while in my mind..., and musical education, I know that they misinterpreted the beauty as sadness.

For example, look at the definition for pavane: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pavane . It is a "stately" dance. Then look at the definition of "stately": http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/stately ... "majestic, imposing in magnificence, elegance... dignified". But most uneducated, even if highly trained musicians and dancers, as well as the general public, would interpret it as sad.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpgyTl8yqbw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6teLelbj0dg

I appreciate the advice about busking, as you can't educate every passer-by. However, it would probably be doing a service to educate friends so they may better appreciate the intent of these pieces.
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Kiku Day
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PostPosted: 2013-01-21, 19:31    Post subject: Wondering About Busking Reply with quote

Lorka, you are not the only one who has that experience. I have been told many times that the shakuhachi makes people feel:
sad, lonely, cold, depressive, like mourning etc..

As well as beautiful, spiritual, deep (the Japanese like to use this one), touching etc...

Both Japanese and non-J. I think yes the scale has a sad connotation for many and the fact that it is not rhythmically uplifting...

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