‘Tout le movement, c’est le rhythm” (every movement of life is rhythm) once explained a West African music chieftain to bring to light the fact that music is an expression of life itself.
His words recently resounded in the cerebral violin improvisation on a street in Galway Ireland with the rhythm of the high heels of passing brunettes offering perfect accompaniment. Their sonorous syllables of Gaelic gossip seemed to add lyrics to each passage rendered by the wayside violinist contributing to a perfectly musical morning!
While many renowned musicians find a platform at prestigious concert halls and other mega arenas that draw the crowds, not all are lucky to find a stage to unleash their hidden genius. Very often, busy streets of international cities, metro stations, public parks and other corners in the most unnoticeable areas of the world offer space to musicians to express their souls. ‘Buskers’ as they are often referred to as, may do it out of the dire need for money, or just for their creativity to be heard by others.
Nepotism and hierarchy often rule the roost in many cultures like Indian classical music. While hard work and perseverance are key mantras for musicians, luck among several factors plays a huge role, though quite silently, in their success. Being a musician, it feels blessed to present a symphony of street music synergy from around the world.
Music is another name for life among the Irish. ‘Ceolagus Craic’ (music and fun) is what one would hear throb out of a stethoscope if placed on an Irishman’s chest! In Dublin, rain moon or shine, every corner resounds with music. Apart from international music festivals inviting celebrated maestros each year, traditional Celtic music is in the air perpetually all the time. Temple Bar, the city’s pub complex can have a first-timer hypnotised by the sheer play of sounds from each old pub.
A stroll down Dublin’s famed Grafton Street unveils a different avatar of astounding musical talent. At a distance of a few feet from one another in the city’s high-end shopping gateway are placed musicians of great skill and calibre. Celtic instruments like the Uilleann Pipes, Tin Whistles and Bodhrans attract the emotional Irish overwhelmed with nostalgia at listening to their favourite childhood reel being rendered.
Retro Blues crooners, Tap dancers and even mood guitarists lost in their postmidnight moonlit trance get their share of contributions that fill their mats or bowls placed before their instruments. Solitary female Celtic Harpists offer the much needed tranquillity in this bustling hub of Dublin.
Australia’s dynamic international city is a mesmerising kaleidoscope of colours and cultures. A perfect linguistic legato fills the air as Chinese, Hindi, Arabic and Aussie English mingle with phonetic fineness!
Melbourne’s vibrant mixed-international population brings with it the gifts of varied cultures from across the globe. While one can stumble upon culinary icons serving delicious delicacies from around the world, Melbourne’s busy streets buzz with varied sounds. Although the Didgeridoo is not indigenous to the State of Victoria but to other Australian regions, unknown masters of the instrument make the heart skip a beat with an inexplicable trance emerging from its basal tones.
Often self-accompanying on the melodious ‘Hang’ or ‘Hang Drum’, these Didgeridoo players produce healing harmony by pairing the contradicting tones of both instruments.
With its enormous Chinese population, Melbourne offers you classic delights with expert ‘Jinghu’ (Chinese fiddle) mavericks rendering meditative compositions that invariably relieve the peak hour stress of rushing office goers. Acrobatic dancers and beat-boxers and their irresistible grooves add zing to a dull rainy day!
In an otherwise staid city which spells suave polish and orderliness, spontaneity offers colour and grace. The Romani Gypsies are a talented lot of people whose ancestors hailed from India. Music is a way of life with them and Romani street musicians often dazzle Europe’s busy streets with exceptional musicianship.
In Belfast’s city centre, Romani accordionists create a mood of romance in the air as they let their spirits fly on the wings of their fingers! Post sunset, this music adds subtle romance to the beautifully lit downtown with an array of luxury boutiques, wealthy fashionistas and international tourists.
Who can resist street drummers anywhere in the world? Belfast often rocks with the rhythms of racy street drumming. While soloists literary levitate on their impromptu improvisations sometimes aided with recorded rhythms, groups of drummers playing Brazilianstyle Carnival grooves draw-in the multitude.
The highlight is however the occasional Pavarotti-style operatic tenor singers who move passersby to tears. One can hardly believe that a humbly dressed singer placed on a street corner can shakeup a multitude of unconnected people. Music is truly universal!
From the verdant wonders of fairy tale Slovakia rise the gentle strains of the shepherd flute, the ‘Fujara’. A long, elaborately decorated flute, the Fujara is instant meditation relieving the listener from mental stress and fatigue.
In Bratislava, the country’s capital megapolis, the grime gives way to the sincere Fujara musician draped in a traditional ‘Croy’ costume and quaint black hat as he pours out his soul into the humble flute.
Slovakia is home to astounding musical heritage and even sleepy hinterland towns like Hrushov effervesce with music once a year during the Hontianska Parada village festival.
Impromptu jams at every corner cast a spell on you with the spirit of cheer filling the air. Hardy folk selling homely village produce like jams, infusions and wines mingle with musicians, each playing their individual tunes yet blending with each other harmoniously.
While fascinating local instruments charm you with unpretentious expressions, Slovakia’s gypsies make the tiny town reverberate with the leitmotif cimbalom (like the santoor), cello and fiddles with audiences barely holding on to their seats!