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  1. #1

    Default busking question

    I searched the other busking threads but couldn't find the answer I was looking for. I was wondering how many tunes one should learn before busking (I know what TYPE of songs I should know but not how many)? And for the songs should I just learn the heads of the songs? Or should I do solos aswell (Keep in mind this is without backing tracks)?

    The types of songs I'm thinking of doing are the popular jazz tunes and those cheesy love 80s songs and stuff. If people could list some specific tunes that they get requested often that would be awesome aswell. The songs I've thought doing at the moment include Summertime, Autumn Leaves, Nothing Gonna Change My Love For You, Titanic theme song (would that work for tenor?).

    Thank you.

  2. #2

    Default Re: busking question

    How many do you want to play? If you want to make money, play more tunes, but play them well. But that is not why I busk. I play for the fun of it. Make sure you play it in a style that people are going to like, and it always helps to have someone playing with you.

  3. #3

    Default Re: busking question

    How many tunes do you have up your sleeves?

  4. #4
    Distinguished SOTW Columnist/Official SOTW Guru Dog Pants's Avatar
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    Default Re: busking question

    Hit the search function buddy. Try using "busking" and also "street sax"

    Generalisations on busking:

    Jazz tunes won't fill your case. People have to recognise the tune.

    Location, location, location.

    Dress the part.

    Attract a crowd and the money will follow.

    There's a "biorhythm" for want of a better word, to busking. Day of the week, time of the day, when do people get paid, etc, etc.

    I used to do it years ago. Wasn't a very good player then (still ain't ) but I made good money playing cheesey love songs. Tequila gets them dancing but they tend to dance on by without throwing down the cash. Slow ballads tend to bring in the $$$ but again, it changes depending upon the location, time of day, crowd, and so on.

    Learn enough tunes to cover one hour. After that time you're gonna have to move on anyway. Stay in one place too long and you become part of the background. Stay longer and you become annoying.

    Find a few workable spots and move around.
    The soft and despicable other side of this rather nasty coin is where everything unintelligible is automatically invested with significance by culture vultures. That was exemplified by a Ravi Shankar concert in London at which, after listening to some applause, Shankar said ‘If you liked our tuning up, I hope you will now like our playing’.

  5. #5

    Default Re: busking question

    Thanks for your help. I had already used the search function and could not find an answer which I had mentioned in my first post. But thank you for providing the info I was looking for.



    Thanks

  6. #6
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    Default Re: busking question

    well, judging by the kid i ran into 'playing'(if you could call it that) soprano sax on the square in Healdsburg, CA(wine country) on Saturday, some people don't learn anything...

  7. #7
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    Default Re: busking question

    In fact, if you know 5 or 6 songs, you can easily pull it off. Most people just pass by, and wouldn't even notice if you play the same song over and over again for two hours straight. You wouldn't be the first one to try that...

  8. #8
    Forum Contributor 2008 thejoyofsax's Avatar
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    Default Re: busking question

    I hardly ever play actual songs when I busk. I use it almost as a practice time, especially for ear training. I like to play at night, usually in the realm of 9 to 11. I typically pick a key and style and just go with what comes to me. Creating a good melody or harmonic progression is a fun challenge for me, and the listeners don't seem to mind. I usually drag in about $15 to $20 an hour, but like Chu, money is not my focus.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: busking question

    Don't forget to check the location's requirements for municiple licenses, merchant permissions, etc.

    Also, don't tread on the territories of established buskers unless you think you can take them in a fair fight.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: busking question

    I was down in Fisherman's Wharf in SFO last weekend, saw a new twist - guy all punked up, had a sign, 'Take a picture with a freak' kinda thing...
    Maybe you put on a funky hair job, fly a sign, honk a bit, no telling just what you'd drag in

  11. #11
    Bill Mecca's Avatar
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    Default Re: busking question

    that reminds me of a time, years ago( seems like another life) when I used to go into NYC regularly. I saw one guy playing on a street corner with a boom box, and he had his CD's for sale, but the real story was this other tenor player, I must have run into him a half dozen times, in Chinatown, in the subway etc. Everytime I saw him he was putting his horn in his case. never heard him play a note. Heck I don't even know if he could play!

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