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Saturday, 5 December 2009

Sights of UK: Street Musicians

Note: High resolution images of some of the following photos are available. These photos are marked with [HiRes] tags in their captions. Click on the photos to view their higher resolution images.

Begging is a bad issue in Malaysia. Beggars are everywhere, and they may be of all ages, sporting different "life difficulties" such as loss of limbs or sight. They can be found along the side walk, draped in dirty clothes. Outside the shopping centre, hoping to attract the richer folks. Some pedestrians even prefer to risk their lives than to use pedestrian bridges to avoid beggars.

In UK, however, things are different. I've been here for months now, and I don't remember seeing a single beggar.

Doesn't mean that you're dead if you don't have a single penny to spend, though. Just pick your own brain and go busking. Because here, if you can entertain strangers, they'll pay. And sometimes that doesn't even require any tools, except one -- brains.

Most of these people will opt for music. Street musicians are extremely common in Nottingham City Centre, especially during weekends.

The concept is simple. You get a harmonica. And a cup. And a stool. You choose a corner in busy streets of the city. You sit down on your stool. You put the cup in front of you (it'll be helpful if you have some pennies in it). You put the harmonica to your mouth. And you play.

And they pay you. Simple enough, right? You play, they pay. If you're good enough, that is.

[HiRes] A violin! I have that! This violinist was lightyears ahead of me though. Paid him a few pence for this photo.

If you're good, you'll gather big crowds (remember Mr. Bean's Holiday?). If you're bad, you're invisible (and inaudible, apparently). There's no harm in trying.

[HiRes] Organist at Nottingham City Centre.

Take this Muslim lady, for example. She obviously had no knowledge of music whatsoever. She was strumming a guitar randomly, her left hand stopping arbitrary strings. I wasn't even sure her guitar was tuned -- her chords were so jumbled up that even my absolute pitch hearing failed me. She got mad after seeing me with my camera and yelled unintelligible words at me. I hastily paid her a few pence before running away, trying hard to hide my amused look.

Muslim guitarist
[HiRes] The Muslim lady with no musical knowledge. At all. Ah well, at least she knew a guitar when she saw one.

To reach out to more people, some invest on the big guns. Like this electric guitar player down here.

Electric Guitar
[HiRes] Big speaker with volume turned up. Who will miss that?

Some team up with others, get sets of elaborate costumes and perform tribal dances. And got quite successful at that too.

[HiRes] Red Indians? Beside the Nottingham Parliament House. They always get a lot of attention from the public the few times I saw them.

But sometimes, simplicity is best. I saw a female singer in London who was so loud (and good) that it was so hard to believe that she wasn't using any microphones at all.

The singer in London.

But you didn't know music?

Who says you have to?

All you need is a little creativity to gather crowds.

Like this headless man over here.

[HiRes] Simple, but effective. See how much the girl beside him was enjoying herself.

Or you can dress as Ironman.

Or Plasticman.

Or Junkman.

[HiRes] Junkman in London.

So what are you waiting for? Get your Hallowe'en costumes out and start scaring people out of their skins.


  1. PS: There's something about candid photos... they're simple, not elaborate (no photo editing on these photos), yet so effectively capture emotions... love the first photo (violinist) very very much, but i don't know why!!!

  2. This is one colourful post! Music, colours, candid shots...Pretty !

    Btw, I left you something on my blog :) Go collect it..


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