Tuesday, July 14, 2009

'I can hear rain coming like a serenade of sound..'

After meeting the Duxianquin player yesterday, today I ran into two more Chinese artists, both with stringed instruments, but one more conventional than the other.

First, I bumped into M.J. Zhang, a solo cellist, who was playing Bach's Cello Suite #1 in Gmaj.

Later, on a platform at West 4th Street, I came across a gentleman playing a Chinese hammered dulcimer or - I think - a Yangqin (or Yang Qin) where bronze strings are played with a pair of bamboo beaters. It's a very distinctive and soothing sound.

(You might recognize the sound of a hammered dulcimer from the beginning of Coldplay's "Life In Technicolor" - which features samples from Jon Hopkins' brilliant "Light Through The Veins" - a very cool song idea - the lyric version of which I've tried to play a couple of times on platforms recently)


Today I went to play at one of the Subway network's busiest stations: 59th Street / Columbus Circle. Lots of trains, but I found a good spot beneath a staircase, with plenty of people milling around. A couple of MTA guys were taking what looked like decibel measurement readings while I was playing, and certainly whenever up and down trains arrived at the same time, it was as loud as - if not louder than - anywhere else I've played so far.

I sang for just over an hour with gaps and made $2.51, which takes my running total to - somewhat symmetrically - exactly $58.


Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Bob Dylan
Atlantic City - Bruce Springsteen
1952 Vincent Black Lightning - Richard Thompson
Stand By Me - Ben E. King
Waiting For My Real Life To Begin - Colin Hay
Wonderwall - Oasis
Lovers In A Dangerous Time - Bruce Cockburn
Lawyers, Guns And Money - Warren Zevon
Rosalita - Bruce Springsteen
Secret Garden - Bruce Springsteen


There's an interview here with our friend the Saw Lady about the upcoming Saw Festival she's organizing in Queens this weekend.


And I'm grateful to Natalia for drawing my attention to this story a couple of days ago about public access pianos in London. I love how in a few short grafs, they manage to get in bureaucracy, vandalism, rain, traditional English 'reserve' and the recession; as well as the old faithful "struck a chord" cliche.


No such luck for Thoth, the loinclothed Central Park violinist/vocalist who's apparently been shut down by Park authorities. Check out the documentary about him at the Gawker link.


Finally, just when you thought we'd had the last Michael Jackson reference, this comes along and manages to be very clever, even if the tape loop starts to irritate after the first twenty or so clips.

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