Buskers is an ongoing series of recordings of street musicians from different cities. I have always been amazed by the presence of these street artists and the way their sound travels and gets filtered through the spaces they perform. I also find fascinating the way these sounds gradually unravel to my ears as I approach them. In fact, they are a pure and vivid manifestation of a city’s freeform and most of the times underground creative communities.
Having lived and traveled in different countries and cities instigated me to begin documenting, whenever possible, these people and the different ways they communicate their music within different sonic conditions. Mainly frequenting around busy subway stations, the buskers make the most out of the natural acoustics of the spaces and the impact their sound has to the overall ambience.
Capturing this beauty prove to be a difficult task for many different reasons but mainly because of the instantaneous nature of these sound events. Most of the recordings featured in this collection are somehow brief simulacra of the actual scenes and were done using mainly in-ear binaural microphones.
Canary Wharf Station, London
This is a recording of a blind busker standing right next to the entrance of Canary Wharf Jubilee Line Station in September 2008. That was a quite unusual interaction mainly because I had not seen this man ever before in that particular spot or, for that matter, anywhere in the London underground, where the normal encounters would be with a bossa-nova guitarist or something more straightforward. I tried to choreograph his whistling using the natural panning you get with the binaurals and then slowly move away from him.
Ermou Street, Athens, 1
Ermou Street, Athens, 2
These recordings of two of the oldest buskers to be found in Athens were made in April 2008 on Ermou Street, one of the busiest yet most beautiful streets in Athens, on a peaceful weekday. It's also interesting that these recordings document the sound of the santouri and laterna, two traditional Greek instruments, elegantly echoing the old cultural undertones of the city.
Dupont Circle, Washington DC
In March 2011, I made a brief visit to Washington, DC. This guitarist stood out for me mainly because I could not initially see him. More, the acoustics of the space he was performing in were masking his sound in such a way that you couldn’t hear it from a distance or from certain angles.
Times Square Subway Station, Manhattan
Atlantic Avenue Subway Station, Brooklyn
14th Street Subway Station, Manhattan, 1
14th Street Subway Station, Manhattan, 2
I did these recordings in New York City subway stations between 2010—12.
2 Train to the Bronx
I did this recording in August 2009 while on the 2 train to the Bronx. This man had a portable set-up consisting of a bass guitar and a small amp. I really enjoyed the way he interacted with the people boarding the train and how he modified the song lyrics to tease the passengers. It was funny that after a while my partner and I were the only white people on the train and the artist actually sang a song for us. That interaction is documented in the beginning of the recording.