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Street Music: An Overview, History & Benefits

In most major cities around the world, you will find Street musicians at the corners of major city blocks, subway stations and often open spaces with a lot of crowd. Street performance also known as busking is the act of performing in public places for gratuities.
There have been performances in public places for gratuities in every major culture in the world, dating back to history.

For most musicians back then, street performance was the most common means of employment before the advent of recording devices and personal electronics. In those ancient times listening to a performer in the street was the only way to hear music. The term busking is attributed to the Roma as mention of Romani music, dancers and fortune tellers can be found in all forms of poetry, prose and lore. They Introduced the term to England during their travels along the Mediterranean coast to Spain, the Atlantic and then up the north of England and the rest of Europe.

In medieval France buskers were known as Troubadours, in Russia they were known as Skomorokh and their first recorded history appears around the 11th century. Mexican Mariachi bands frequently busk while traveling through streets and plazas, as well as in restaurants and bars. In the United States, buskers date back to the medicine shows in which traveling vendors, who sold elixirs and potions would include performances to make clients feel good. These vendors would pass a hat around to collect money from an appreciative audience after the performance was over.

Street music comes in all shapes and forms, it can be played, danced, acted, or sung. These performances can be fixed to a particular location within a street or have an unanchored location and can either be improvised or rehearsed ahead of time. It is beneficial to the society as Buskers normally attract the public to an area, which encourages people to visit and patronize stores, restaurants and businesses in the vicinity – creating a mutually beneficial commercial environment for everyone.

The public equally benefits from street music as they are exposed to quality entertainment for a minimum expense and a lot times people meet and connect with each other while watching buskers do their thing.

Street musicians are giving something to the world. It takes a great deal of talent to be able to alter someone’s mood and attitude just by playing a few riffs or singing a few verses. They do nothing more than try to bring something beautiful into our everyday world.

So next time you pass a saxophone player playing a jazz classic, or a guitarist playing a country song, Stop – Take a small break – and just listen to the music. Sometimes simply acknowledging the presence of these performers makes all the difference.

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