busking with an expensive instrument?

busking with an expensive instrument?

what do you all think about busking with an expensive instrument? the only concertina i have right now is worth about $6k USD, and i want to go busking. i would feel a lot more comfortable playing flute or whistle, but i feel a concertina would garner a lot more attention than a flute or whistle. of course i would never play if it started to rain and i’m only planning on doing this during the summer.

i have recently lent out my back up concertina, so the only other concertina i have is a stagi. i guess beggars (hahaha) cant be choosers, but the stagi might become exhausting after a couple hours, as playing it is a work out.

so what do you all think? *shivers* cheap stagi? expensive hand made concertina? or bring some much more replaceable (and water proof) flutes and whistles and be uninteresting and mundane?

if it makes a difference, it’s probably going to be somewhere like michigan avenue in chicago, so pretty crowded.

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replaceable (and water proof) flutes and whistles and be uninteresting and mundane?

The only thing that could possibly make a whistle or flute mundane , is the person playing it and the limitations of their repetoire.
The fact you express this opinion conveys a seeming lack of ability, understanding or appreciation for the tradition or the instruments before you even play a note.
Busking is about putting your heart into the choons and the instrument and play regardless of audience, your post suggests its a waste of time for you to busk at all, as you will never be able to aspire to this.
Would you call Paddy Keenan or Mick Mc Goldrick playing the whistle mundane and uninteresting or do you just put yourself in this catagory.. shame on you for posting such nonsence

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If you have to ask the best way to "garner" attention maybe its your choons missing somthing and not the instruments in question..

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Trucks,
I suggest a small sign with the price of the concertina clearing posted there on the sidewalk and an explanation that he’s paying off the 6 grand. It’ll make for some good craic.

"You’re hearing music from a $6,000 instrument! I need to pay it off. Any contributions welcome!"

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"clearly posted"

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Joshua Bell did it once in NY with his multi-million$ Strad as a stunt for TV. In several hours only one or two recognised him, but his playing did attract attention.

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ask most people what instruments they would rather hear at a session- Concertina or Flute/Whistle and odds on your 6grand - concertina will play second fiddle to my used and abused peice of crap -Flute, concertinas a grand instrument and a great unique sound, difficult to play well and when done so has alot to offer a session. but.. fact is it doesn’t grab your soul by the ballz same way as the other two"mundane instruments". Nor does it lay a foundation for the choons in the same way as Pipes, Whistle, Flute or Fiddle do..

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Ha!-‘But the music enraged the beast’.

Very good-but that concertina had more than a touch of accordion to it if you ask me.

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trucks—i stand by my assertion that the flute and whistles are mundane in comparison to the concertina. most people are familiar with both instruments. in the states, most people have never seen a concertina, and have no idea what it is… i have had people ask me if it was electric, if it had buttons or holes, etc, all while they were looking straight at it.

i disagree that the artistic value of your music is the most important part of busking. first you need to get their attention, and the concertina is much better at that. it is much more memorable.

i will agree with you that most people enjoy listening to the flute and whistle better. most p

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I have yet to see the sound of a concertina accurately represented in these sorts of films.

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If you paid a lot for your instrument, that means you like the sound of it. You must like playing it more than the other instrument alike but less quality. So, why don’t you use it?

Choose you instrument for the sound, not for the cost of it, but how good is an instrument if it is not played? What are you scared of? Someone will grab it from your hands and start running?

I myself take my second cheap fiddle while mountaineering, winter camping, canoeing or in the rain, but otherwise, always use my most expensive fiddle because I like playing the best.

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trucks—i stand by my assertion that the flute and whistles are mundane in comparison to the concertina. most people are familiar with flutes and whistles. in the states, most people have never seen a concertina, and have no idea what it is…

i will agree with you that most people enjoy listening to the flute and whistle better. the concertina sounds strange, and the flute is considered an especially soulful and touching instrument all around the world.

i disagree that quality of music is all that is necessary to garner attention. if you read the article that lazyhound cites, one of the world’s most famous violinists had trouble getting people to even notice he was playing: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html?hpid=topnews .

i assure you that joshua bell’s "choons" were not missing anything. i also think that if he had pulled out a concertina, more people would have noticed. it’s a simple matter of expectations—people expect buskers to be doing certain things. people have habituated to buskers playing the most common instruments.

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carabus—thanks. that’s how i feel about it too. yeah, i was a little worried about other people and the instrument. my natural inclination would be to trust humanity.

the only reason i ask is cuz a friend of mine has two of the exact same concertinas as me, yet she takes out her backup concertina instead of her expensive one. my first reaction was that she was daft—she has had her instrument a couple of weeks, and has hardly played it cuz she refuses to take it busking. but then i got to thinking that maybe that is the normal thing to do.


note—sorry about the double post.

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trucks—that is an awesome video, lol. i think you are the lion and the sane peoples of the world are the other animals. please dont eat me.

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to all—my other primary concern was the hot sun beating down on the instrument for hours on end every day. any thoughts?

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Trucks, it’s obvious that daiv was referring to being mundane and uninteresting to the audience. Not to trad musicians. Nice windup, though.

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What I meant was that he meant the instruments themselves would be perceived as boring, not the playing. I agree with the other posters that technical ability or heart means nothing, and that a ‘gimmick’ or something to stand out would be more lucrative.

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Trucks sounds like a gimp. Busking is about the cash. Ask Johny doran or Felix what they’d prefer - ‘Cash’ or cheque

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Yeah, all these things that will happen to your instrument is called aging… I am not saying that you should immerse it in water (or even better beer) but I find it quite sad when I go to a monthly session at a fiddle collector place and I see all these nice fiddles behind glass walls begging to be played.

I say play it. If you worry about the sun, find a shady place, if you worry about rain, find a roof. On that video of Joshua Bells, he is taking his million dollars fiddle in a transit station… with lot of people…

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Just play the thing, get a good case so it doesn’t get wet…..

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yeah, i think you guys are right. i just assumed there was no shade on michigan ave., but obviously that’s not true.

carabus— i was just about to soak it in the tub to weatherize it. funny story! i actually have a friend who did that with his first accordion. he was about 5 and wanted to know what it would sound like underwater. needless to say… it just bubbled.

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The Joshua Bell experiment was interesting. It confirms an opinion I’ve always held that It doesn’t matter who is playing or the value of the instrument being played. If you are going to busk, pick music that appeals to the masses. ‘When Irish Eyes are Smiling’ or ‘The Girl I left behind me’ might have been a better choice in this case. There is one hellua difference playing to a crowd of punters who have paid to see a performance, and who have no option but to sit there frightened to cough or even scratch their noses, and the great unwashed who just want to get home and get their feet up in front of the telly.

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My music is not a gimmick. My instrument is not a spectacle.

Choons to get the bLOOd flowing are all ya need. At a event at a youth club in Ballymun, Dublin, after a bit of persuasion I wired out a good set of reels. The kids didnt show or have any interest in trad or so they thought. Within a minute the place went wild..

If your audience is more interested than the number of buttons on yer 6grand squeezebox than the tunes ya play, I feel sorry for ya.. as for you man calin me a gimp. You talk of travellers. I grew up wit travellers so fack aff tellin me attitudes to choons or anything else for that matter. "Doran cared more about the money". What ignorance. Come on so and educate me

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I think you should check what could better fit you needs. Everyone have different motivations in doing things, so it’s your choice, it depends on what motivations are yours to go busking.

If I would go busking, i’d take with me the guitar i feel more comfortable with, the one i love more. I’d show myself to other people the way i am, and i’d prefer to make music at my best.

If I’d go just to make money, i’d go to the place and previously would do a market research, i’d choose my target, and i’d try to give my target what they need. If my target prefer whistle, I’d go whistling, if they like more drum, I’ d go drumming…but, i’d take care of my look, i’d choose according to the image i have to sell to my buyers.

…personally, i think that making music for money as a primary motivation is a very short path. not lasting so long. while, if you do what you really love, you can do it for your whole life…and someone thinks more, also…. ;-)

Whatever choice you’ll take, it’ll lead you to learn something. here in italy things are very different from the states… but being on the road is a great experience, wherever you are…..have a nice summer, daiv!

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I’d have to agree with both Trucks and Daiv. I just played a mundane gig on silver flute (threw in a solo set of jigs on my blackwood Burns, just for good measure) at a Farmer’s market. At this gig, I play mostly classical duets with another flute player. We have the gimmick aspect because I’ll play alto flute and she’ll play bass flute or piccolo at times. Sometimes we play duets with me on my Susato Kildare D and her on piccolo. But those who stay and listen usually focus on my regular old silver flute, not the novel flutes. I think one can get initial attention with a gimmick, but sustained attention has to do with the quality of the music, the performance. Hey, I actually made $10. Not bad for having fun doing what I love—making any money doing art is always cool in my book.

I’m loving this thread with the clips. BTW, Josh Bell still made about a dollar a minute in a very unfriendly setting, i.e. not a total bust. Much better than most would fare under the same conditions.

Cheers,

Jason

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trucks—the situation you refer to was a captive audience. i dont have a captive audience. people will be walking by on their way to work, eat, or to a museum—i’m probably going to play near the art institute. and i prefer the concertina anyways. so playing the flute because the instrument is more durable (i have 3 flutes—one is a cochran boosey copy in delrin) is not what i prefer to do, because it is less of a gimmick AND i enjoy it less. if i enjoyed it more, i would play it instead. if i really cared about money, i would probably paint myself silver ( http://www.austinlinks.com/images/silverman4_00.jpg ) and recite obama speeches or something, :p

jason—that sounds like a lot of fun. it’s always nice to get paid to do what you love. last december, i got paid to play at an old mansion turned museum—i played two days, 3 hours a day, got paid 200 bucks!

scorr55—i agree. i dont really care too much about money. i just figure that playing music and getting paid might be a nice way to spend my time. it will take me a few years of playing any sort of gig before it even comes close to paying off all my instruments. i agree that people will appreciate when what you play is genuine. that is why i am learning how to play some pop music—i dont ever want to have to compromise my irish music to get attention, but i’ll comp

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Re: busking with an expensive instrument?

trucks—the situation you refer to was a captive audience. i dont have a captive audience. people will be walking by on their way to work, eat, or to a museum—i’m probably going to play near the art institute. and i prefer the concertina anyways. so playing the flute because the instrument is more durable (i have 3 flutes—one is a cochran boosey copy in delrin) is not what i prefer to do, because it is less of a gimmick AND i enjoy it less. if i enjoyed it more, i would play it instead. if i really cared about money, i would probably paint myself silver ( http://www.austinlinks.com/images/silverman4_00.jpg ) and recite obama speeches or something, :p

jason—that sounds like a lot of fun. it’s always nice to get paid to do what you love. last december, i got paid to play at an old mansion turned museum—i played two days, 3 hours a day, got paid 200 bucks!

scorr55—i agree. i dont really care too much about money. i just figure that playing music and getting paid might be a nice way to spend my time. it will take me a few years of playing any sort of gig before it even comes close to paying off all my instruments. i agree that people will appreciate when what you play is genuine. i know it’s a ways out of the tradition, but if you watch videos of the beatles playing, you can tell they’re having more fun than any pop musicians you see today. they all take themselves so seriously…

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I’ve made plenty money playing trad, I don’t think it a short step to anywhere. Having said that money is not my motivating motive, it’s simply to get a tune with my mates who’s only income was/is trad music and involves a fee, they ask me to play, I take my cut………

Playing outdoors, busking etc…. it’s for the individual to decide on what they would do with their instrument. I have a back up for wild west situations and thats the instrument I’d take, but I don’t really like out side playing, rain humidity cold sun midgies midgies midgies etc I’ve a pal who plays Cello who’d do a bit busking during the Edinburgh festival around 25 30 years ago. The instruments were family owned so he’d take his back up, worth £10k, but the good bow, worth £25. His concert cello weighed in at £80k ( in 1980 ).

So I guess it’s relative, $6k not that expensive. The question I’d ask my self is: can I afford to have it damaged/wrecked/stolen etc ? If the answer is no it’s a simple decision.

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hello, solidmahog, i just said that "personally, i think that making music for money as a primary motivation is a very short path".

so, i think that if you made a lot of money making music, it’s because you love it. so, IMO you deserve it. and most probably for you it’s a very long path..
and, if one makes music as a job, i think it is also better than stealing someone, or opening a bank (in the weekend..) ;-)

i probably (being a guitar player poor in style and in money..) prefer people who love music first and then they choose music as a job, rather than people who play music as they were employees.. or as enterpreneurs. but this is just my personal opinion.

i think one point irish, scottish and american people have towards music is that generally you love more music than us in italy. generally speaking, you love to preserve your music and to play for the sake of making good music first.

here in my country music is mainly a business, and the main goal is to make money with it. so music goes wherever money is. in fact you cannot see so many groups making traditional music here like in you countries.

that’s probably the reason why i talk this way, motivated by the need to distinguish between making music as a pure business or as a nice thing that can become a job too.

best r egards.

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Daiv, another thought is to take your Stagi, and give your hands a huge workout and build strength. Bring your flute and whistles, too, and switch out if your fingers get fatigued with the specific motions of playing the ‘tina. On perfectly beautiful days, you can always bring out the expensive instrument.

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Daiv, a couple things about the two topics you initially bring up:

1) busking with top-notch instrument vs "beater" or "beach" instrument:

I’ve worked at Disneyland for nearly 20 years, and the entire time I’ve worked there a great jazz band has played there, which I’ve seen thousands of times. They’re not busking in the sense that they’re on salary and don’t get money from the "guests", but their performances are like busking in that they play on the streets in all weather.
These guys are great musicians and this band has performed at the White House, been featured at many jazz festivals all over Europe and the USA etc etc.
The sax guy plays his BEST sax, worth several thousand dollars, every day, and sometimes plays an extremely rare sax worth in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. He says he wants to sound his best whenever he plays.
The clarinet guy always plays a bottom-end plastic student clarinet. He says he doesn’t want to expose his expensive professional wood clarinets to all the weather.
Go figure.

Topic #2) Which instruments garner the most attention when busking?

I contend that you only will find that out by actually trying the various instruments.
Busking is an eye-opener as you can’t predict Public Tastes.

A number of years ago a friend and I busked for a few days at a crowded outdoor fair.

He brought bodhran and cittern (Irish octave mandolin).

I brought uilleann pipes, bellows-blown Scottish Smallpipes, wood flute, and whistles.

We tried all the various combinations of instruments and discovered that the combination of Cittern and Scottish Smallpipes always drew the biggest crowds and the most money.

Whenever I played the Scottish Smallpipes I would see people in the crowd discussing the bellows amongst themselves by imitating the arm action. They didn’t do this when I played the uilleann pipes.

Go figure.

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I’m guessing you stood up to play the small pipes and sat to play the Irish pipes?

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Mr scorr55, thanks for the reply. I only play music for money when asked to and if I’m honest it’s just for the chance to play a good tune. The money comes in handy for instruments, strings etc.. it’s not my main income. Unlike the main stream music business, the trad music "industry" is peopled, in the main by fellow enthusiasts rather than business people.

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trucks—the situation you refer to was a captive audience. i dont have a captive audience. people will be walking by ..

and therin lays the problem.. and the audience I referred to wre less than captive initially- that was the point.. I do like your idea of playing near a musuem..Less commuters more bystanders - same as a library, another good spot

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I once went busking with a friend who plays fiddle, guitar, and banjo. I had the pipes and whistles. The combination that got the best response was pipes/guitar. The melody instrument + backing instrument seemed more appealing to the masses than two melody instruments. Go figure.

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Trucks,
I busk for a good chunk of my living. It has nothing to do with "putting your heart into the chunes". That’s for playing with your friends. Busking is about making a ridiculous spectacle of yourself and hopefully playing decent music while it happens.

I can play whistle just fine, and octave mandolin, and I won’t make nearly as much with them as I will when I put on a jarring hat and put out my fiddle with the stripes on it.

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I couldnt not put my heart into tunes.. But fair enough..I wack a big stupid green paddys day hat on and the odd time put a ring of painted stones round me. This gives the benefits of a both the lucrative spectacle you refer to and also creates own space. Iv no bother making a spectacle of myself or puttin on a show. The very fact you own a stripy violin show you have heart before u even play..:P
In any case, in company I enjoy playing like a man possessed. Freinds or strangers doesnt matter. I couldnt NOT put my heart into the tunes. n its not up to anyone to tell others how to play. or when its useless to put heart into somthing. Thats a bit cynical

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Trucks, so I see there are two , mutually exclusive choices when you expect to make money playing, either:

1. play the tunes with heart, or
2. perform in a fashion that will financially make it worthwhile.

We’re not counting playing experiences where you don’t expect to be paid here.

I think there are a number of performing artists who are very sad they don’t play with heart, then. Perhaps you’ll break the bad news to them?

Or, quite possibly, you misunderstood what I wrote. What I was quite clearly writing was that you can play good music, and enjoy it, but perhaps you should consider the audience and the situation when you figure out how you should try to communicate it - if you’re planning on making it worth your while. When it’s a hobby, when it’s not for pay, who cares? I would also submit that your stupid green hat only attracts an audience that won’t take care of you. But wear it all you like, if it’s working.

Or you can sit in your cave and stroke your precious. I don’t really care what you do. I’m not the person telling people how they should play, or deciding that if someone considers the look and placement of their act that makes them a hack. That’s because I’m not an angsty teenager.

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dont go Stagi - get a Rochelle. They are loud enough to play outside and excellent value for busking.

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reenactor - You need to go get some s ex. You need to go in search of some craic too. I rekon u r the one who strokes his precious a bit too much. fool

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and if I did understood ANY of what you wrote its largely because you are less than articulate.. Your posts sound like a Sarah Palin interview.

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misunderstand ANY* so much exitement to tell you my wee definately right and important opinions - your level of expression is clearly contagious. Maybe i do understand after all

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Having just looked at the photos on your album cover, its of no suprise you are angry.. and in need of a ride

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Unless Chicago has changed a *lot* since I grew up there, I would disregard the advise to advertise the fact you are playing a $6000 instrument. Not only would many passers-by be disinclined to donate to someone playing an instrument that costs more than their car, but you might find yourself an involuntary participant in a trade of your concertina for a kick in the head.

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my kinda place

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reenactor - In your Nine points of Rogery/ Follow me down set, you lose the beat in the first Bar of Follow me down. http://cdbaby.com/cd/culchies
Good effort though. Then again maybe that was just your performance for money playing. Im sure you wouldnt have jumped ahead of the beat if U wer playing from the heart.

Reenactor-"I think there are a number of performing artists who are very sad they don’t play with heart, then. Perhaps you’ll break the bad news to them?"

Maybe your lack of tempo is the Bad news in this case? Good effort though. Maybe slow it down next time

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fool

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its only one Note. but its definately there..you correct it second time round..I wonder if anyone else can spot it

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Haha, trucks. Go run and play.

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I dunno

The types that frequent Michigan avenue might not appreciate either. And don’t be surprised if CPD rousts you a few times because most musicians don’t match the profile of the shoppers.

Too busy fliiting from Bloomies to the Crate and Barrel for designer sheets and overpriced stem-ware

CPD might think you are a political protestor or terrorist or something. They’ve changed alot since Chief O’Neill was there.

If you do get to play, remember to smile…’You’re on Candid Camera’ being beamed back to the surveillance center on 35th Street.

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I knew a guy who owned a really expensive instrument, he polished it more than he played it so we sacked him from the band.