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Academic Articles // Busking History, Culture and Life

1. Smith, Murray // 1996 // Traditions, Stereotypes, and Tactics: A History of Musical Buskers in Toronto
Canadian Journal for Traditional Music
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The term "busker" conjures up images ofthe past: an organ grinder in the streets of Victorian England, or perhaps a medieval minstrel singing songs of praise while disseminating news from the battlefield. Contemporary musical busking — the art of "persuading strangers to fork out money for free music" (Kastner 1992) would appear to have a long and colourful history. The present study considers the history of busking in Toronto, a city which currently supports numerous buskers and busking locations. More specifically, I try to determine whether one can identify a "busking tradition" in Toronto, and if so, what might be its characteristics. (...)

2. Hirsch, E. Lily // 2010 // “Playing for Change”: Peace, Universality, and the Street Performer
American Music, Volume 28, Number 3, pp. 346-367
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(…) Grammy-winning music producer and engineer Mark Johnson created this video and larger project in order “to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music.” To do this, Playing for change integrates
contradictory resources, ideas, personnel, and technologies significant to our present-day context. specifically, the project reimagines the street musician in conjunction with a muddy mix of impulses associated with
benefit concert activity, the unifying aura of world music, and the idea of music as a universal language. In this way, the project signifies a nexus of contested ideas regarding good through music and music as good. (...)"

3. Hawkins, Robert // 2012 // “Industry Cannot Go On without the Production of Some Noise”: New York City's Street Music Ban and
the Sound of Work in the New Deal Era
Journal of Social History vol. 46 no. 1 (2012), pp. 106–123
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This study details New York City's Depression-era street music ban and concurrent noise abatement campaign to reveal the relationship of changing definitions of work with sound. New York had issued street music licenses for a fee, but Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia put an end to the practice. While some have assumed LaGuardia banned street music to combat Italian stereotypes associated with organ grinders, this essay demonstrates that efforts to reconcile changing social policy with the work ethic motivated both LaGuardia's ban and public resistance to it. Street musicians occupied an ambiguous space between begging and self-employment and, as relief programs provoked public concern over economic individualism, confusion between honest unemployment and willful dependency was a political liability for the Mayor. Yet, while the Mayor condemned busking as begging, citizens sprang to street music's defense, arguing the ban would force practitioners onto the relief rolls; while municipal policy proclaimed street music was no longer work, some New Yorkers suddenly believed the opposite. Simultaneously, LaGuardia launched an antinoise campaign that evaluated sounds on the basis of economic necessity. Noises essential to work were moderated while “unnecessary” noises were silenced.

4. Kushner, Ronald J. // 2000 // The One-Man Band by the Quick Lunch Stand: Modeling Audience Response to Street Performance
Journal of Cultural Economics 24: 65–77
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This paper considers street performance, or busking, focusing on differences between performance in this environment compared with the standard concert setting. First, in contrast with a set, known ticket price, the price of street performance is endogenously determined. Second, busking generally involves a joint product: music and charity, where charity is produced internally by the audience and has as its principal input the price paid for music. We show that these facts call into question some general conclusions of conventional public finance models, which suggest that the major efficiency problem with busking is its inability to prevent freeriding behavior, and that freeriding, while efficient at the individual level, is inefficient at the societal level. In contrast, we argue in this paper that busking, with freeriding and all, is not unambiguously inferior to concert hall performance in terms of efficiency.

5. Brayshay,Mark // 2005 // Waits, musicians, bearwards and players: the inter-urban road travel and performances of itinerant entertainers in sixteenth and seventeenth century England
Journal of Historical Geography 31, 430-458
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By the reign of Elizabeth, a cosmopolite group of entertainers including musicians, town waits, actors, and those with ‘exotic’ animals were undertaking lengthy provincial tours to perform for audiences all over the country. Theatre historians have done much to recover details about England’s Tudor and Stuart companies of travelling players. By contrast, historical geographers have paid little attention to the scope or character of the journeys undertaken by itinerant entertainers in the early modern period. Drawing partly on the work of theatre scholars, as well as on other published and unpublished evidence, this paper explores the travels of performers rewarded for playing before civic dignitaries in a sample of English towns and cities in the period between c.1525 and c.1640. The distances travelled, modes of transport employed, and frequencies of visits are discussed. In this context, the role and importance of royal and noble patrons in supporting groups of touring musicians, actors and bearwards, and the payments normally received for performances, are examined. By the later sixteenth century, a readiness by well-defined groups of entertainers to travel extensively by road throughout the realm reinforced links between communities located across the English regions.Moreover, while distinctive local entertainment traditions persisted in many places, the journeys of Elizabethan and Jacobean touring performers provided the means by which provincial audiences shared in the performance arts developed at Court and in the metropolis.

6. Wong, Christina // 2013 // In search of a Toronto sound...via underground
American Society for Environmental History conference.
Panel: Crossing Fields, Collaborating Disciplines: History, Environment, Sound, and Music.
taken from: Mapping the Underground Soundscape: Fieldwork Among the Subway Musicians of Toronto
PhD Thesis
The University of Leeds
School of Music
(c) 2012 The University of Leeds and Christina Micky Wong"
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