MUSIC / Busker's charter
Thursday 18 March 1993
1. Repertoire musts
'Stairway to Heaven' (the original Led Zeppelin version); Gorecki's Symphony No 3; anything by Ice Cube; opera.
2. Repertoire must nots
'Stairway to Heaven' (the Rolf Harris version); Whitney Houston's 'I Will Always Love You'; the theme from Z Cars (attracts police).
3. The look
This spring buskers are wearing grunge - just as they were last spring and, in fact, every spring since busking began. Flouting this dress code (by wearing evening dress, say, or football kit, or discarded Buzby costumes) is naff and can suggest corporate backing, jeopardizing revenues.
4. Backing tapes
The use of pre-prepared tapes is disappointingly prevalent. That promising sound turns out, on closer inspection, to be a recording of Miles Davis, to which a patently inept busker is adding triangle. Thus busking drifts inexorably towards the status of karaoke, a tendency that can only be stemmed by the determined efforts of real musicians, singing 'Streets of London' on real acoustic guitars. Second thoughts, let's have more backing tapes.
Pet sidekicks have made attractive sympathy-grabbers ever since the monkey on the barrel organ. However, musical participation by these animals is out of order and they should not be roused to it. Let sleeping dogs lie.
6. Recorder players
See Recorder Players.
The practice of busking on trains or anywhere with a trapped audience should be terminated immediately. Busking is entertainment people pay good money to be able to walk away from.
9. Where the money goes
Something the size of a violin case should be adequate to all occasions, bar the unlikely event of your being heavily tipped by a slot-machine arcade manager on his way to the bank to cash up. A cello casket implies an unseemly estimate of your own musical worth. As do a credit card brace and cash register.
Do not employ someone to collect the money. This is to duck the busker's true art - managing to thank tippers mid-performance: 'And she's buy-yi-ying - thangyew - a sta-air-irway - thangyew - to he- - thangyew - -vurrrn.'
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