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Street performance or busking is the act of performing in public places for
gratuities Image:Restaurant_Tipping_Gratuity_World_Map.svg, 350px, Map showing Gratuity around the world. A gratuity (normally called a tip) is a sum of money customarily given by a client or customer to certain service sector workers for the service they ha ...
. In many countries, the rewards are generally in the form of money but other gratuities such as food, drink or gifts may be given. Street performance is practiced all over the world and dates back to
antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts * Antiquities, objects or artifacts surviving from ancient cultures Eras Any period before the European Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages ...

antiquity
. People engaging in this practice are called street performers or buskers in the United Kingdom. Buskers is not a term generally used in American English. Performances are anything that people find
entertaining Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and Interest (emotion), interest of an audience or gives pleasure and delight. It can be an idea or a task, but is more likely to be one of the activities or events that have develo ...

entertaining
, including
acrobatics Acrobatics (from Ancient Greek ἀκροβατέω, ''akrobateo'', "walk on tiptoe, strut") is the performance of human feats of balance (ability), balance, agility, and motor coordination. Acrobatic skills are used in performing arts, sports, s ...

acrobatics
, animal tricks,
balloon twisting
balloon twisting
,
caricature A caricature is a rendered image showing the features of its subject in a simplified or exaggerated way through sketching, pencil strokes, or through other artistic drawings (compare to: cartoon A cartoon is a type of illustration that is ty ...

caricature
s,
clown A clown is a person who wears a unique makeup-face and flamboyant costume, performing comedy Comedy (from the el, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humor Hum ...

clown
ing, comedy,
contortion Contortion (sometimes contortionism) is a performance art in which performers called contortionists showcase their skills of extreme physical flexibility. Contortion acts often accompany acrobatics, Circus (performing art), circus acts, street ...
s,
escapology magician ">magic_(illusion).html" ;"title="Harry Houdini (1874–1926), a famous escapologist and magic (illusion)">magician Escapology is the practice of escaping from physical restraint, restraints or other traps. Escapologists (also classif ...
, dance, singing,
fire skills
fire skills
,
flea circus A flea circus is a circus A circus is a company of performers who put on diverse entertainment shows that may include s, , trained animals, acts, s, s, , s, , s, , and as well as other and stunt-oriented artists. The term ''circus'' al ...

flea circus
,
fortune-telling Fortune telling is the practice of predicting information about a person's life. Melton, J. Gordon. (2008). ''The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena''. Visible Ink Press. pp. 115-116. The scope of fortune telling is in principle identical w ...
,
juggling Juggling is a physical skill, performed by a juggler, involving the manipulation of objects for recreation, entertainment, art or sport. The most recognizable form of juggling is toss juggling Image:Circus-juggling.jpg, 300px, Juggling pair p ...
,
magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic, encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic * Chaos magic#REDIRECT Chaos magic {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from miscapitalization {{R unprintworthy ..., a contemporary magical practic ...
,
mime #REDIRECT Mime artist A mime artist or just mime (from Greek , , "imitator, actor") is a person who uses mime as a theatrical medium or as a performance art Performance art is an artwork or art exhibition created through actions executed ...
,
living statue A living statue is a performer who poses as a or , usually with realistic statue-like , Performances are commonly on the street but may also be at events where the artist is paid. A living statue attraction, as a performance, is the artist's a ...

living statue
,
music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated concepts , , and ...

music
al performance,
puppeteer A puppeteer is a person who manipulates an inanimate object, called a puppet A puppet is an object, often resembling a human, animal or mythical figure, that is animated or manipulated by a person called a puppeteer A puppeteer is a perso ...

puppeteer
ing,
snake charming Snake charming is the practice of appearing to hypnotize a snake Snakes are elongated, limbless, carnivore, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes . Like all other Squamata, squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebra ...
,
storytelling Storytelling describes the social and cultural activity of sharing narrative, stories, sometimes with improvisation, theatre, theatrics or embellishment. Every culture has its own stories or narratives, which are shared as a means of entertainmen ...

storytelling
or reciting
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its popula ...

poetry
or
prose Prose is a form of written or spoken language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions ...

prose
,
street art , Lower East Side, New York City (1982) Street art is visual art created in public locations for public visibility. It has been associated with the terms "independent art", "post-graffiti", "neo-graffiti" and guerrilla art. Street art has evolv ...

street art
such as sketching and painting,
street theatre A troupe of street theatre performers by the beach in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Street theatre is a form of theatrical Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors ...
,
sword swallowing
sword swallowing
, and
ventriloquism Ventriloquism, or ventriloquy, is a performance act of stagecraft in which a person (a ventriloquist) creates the illusion that their voice is coming from elsewhere, usually a puppeteered prop known as a "dummy". The act of ventriloquism is ven ...
.


Etymology

The term ''busking'' was first noted in the English language around the middle 1860s in Great Britain. The verb ''to busk'', from the word ''busker'', comes from the Spanish root word ''buscar'', with the meaning "to seek"."busker"
Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
The Spanish word ''buscar'' in turn evolved from the
Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation ...
word ''*bhudh-skō'' ("to win, conquer"). It was used for many street acts, and was the title of a famous Spanish book about one of them, ''
El Buscón ''El Buscón'' (full title ''Historia de la vida del Buscón, llamado Don Pablos, ejemplo de vagamundos y espejo de tacaños'' (literally: History of the life of the Swindler, called Don Pablos, model for hobos and mirror of misers); translated as ...
''. Today, the word is still used in Spanish but mostly reserved for female street sex workers, or mistresses of married men.


History

There have been performances in public places for
gratuities Image:Restaurant_Tipping_Gratuity_World_Map.svg, 350px, Map showing Gratuity around the world. A gratuity (normally called a tip) is a sum of money customarily given by a client or customer to certain service sector workers for the service they ha ...
in every major culture in the world, dating back to
antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts * Antiquities, objects or artifacts surviving from ancient cultures Eras Any period before the European Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages ...

antiquity
. For many musicians, street performance was the most common means of employment before the advent of
recording A record, recording or records may refer to: An item or collection of data Computing * Record (computer science), a data structure ** Record, or row (database), a set of fields in a database related to one entity ** Boot sector or boot record, rec ...

recording
and personal electronics.Baird, Stephen (2000
"The History and Cultural Impact of Street Performing in America: Ben Franklin"
Street Performers and Buskers Advocates. Retrieved 2010-06-10.
Prior to that, a person had to produce any music or entertainment, save for a few mechanical devices such as the
barrel organ A barrel organ (also called roller organ or crank organ) is a mechanical musical instrument consisting of bellows and one or more ranks of organ pipe, pipes housed in a case, usually of wood, and often highly decorated. The basic principle is the ...
, the
music box A music box (American English) or musical box (British English) is an automatic musical instrument in a box that produces Musical note, musical notes by using a set of pins placed on a revolving cylinder (geometry), cylinder or disc to pluck ...

music box
, and the
piano roll A piano roll is a music storage medium On a reel-to-reel tape recorder (Sony TC-630), the recorder is data storage equipment and the magnetic tape is a data storage medium. Data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items o ...
.
Organ grinder A street organ played by an organ grinder is an automatic mechanical pneumatic organ designed to be mobile enough to play its music in the street. The two most commonly seen types are the smaller German and the larger Dutch street organ. History ...
s were commonly found busking in the old days. Busking is common among some
Romani people The Romani (also spelled Romany , ), colloquially known as Roma, are an Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these ...

Romani people
. Romantic mention of Romani music, dancers and fortune tellers are found in all forms of song poetry, prose and lore. The Roma brought the word busking to England by way of their travels along the
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...

Mediterranean
coast to Spain and the Atlantic Ocean and then up north to England and the rest of Europe. In medieval France, buskers were known by the terms
troubadour A troubadour (, ; oc, trobador ) was a composer and performer of Old Occitan Old Occitan ( Modern Occitan: ', ca, occità antic), also called Old Provençal, was the earliest form of the Occitano-Romance languages The Occitano-Romance or ...

troubadour
s and ''jongleurs''. In northern France, they were known as ''trouveres''. In old German, buskers were known as
Minnesingers ''Minnesang'' (, "love song") was a tradition of lyric- and song-writing in Germany that flourished in the Middle High German literature, Middle High German period. This period of Middle High German literature, medieval German literature began in ...
and ''Spielleute''. In obsolete French, it evolved to ''busquer'' for "seek, prowl" and was generally used to describe
prostitute Prostitution is the business or practice of engaging in sexual activity Human sexual activity, human sexual practice or human sexual behaviour is the manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality Human sexualit ...
s. In Russia, buskers are called ''
skomorokh A skomorokh ( in , in , in , in ) was a East Slavic , or actor, who could also sing, dance, play musical instruments and compose for oral/musical and dramatic performances. The of the word is not completely clear. There are hypotheses that t ...
'', and their first recorded history appears around the 11th century.
Mariachi Mariachi (, , ) is a genre of regional Mexican Regional Mexican is a Latin music Latin music (Portuguese language, Portuguese and es, música latina) is a term used by the music industry as a catch-all genre for various styles of music from Mu ...

Mariachi
s, Mexican bands that play a style of music by the same name, frequently busk when they perform while traveling through streets and plazas, as well as in restaurants and bars."mariachi"
Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
Around the mid-19th century Japanese ''
Chindonya
Chindonya
'' started to be seen using their skills for advertising, and these street performers are still occasionally seen in Japan. Another Japanese street performance form dating from the
Edo period The or is the period between 1603 and 1867 in the history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a c ...
is
Nankin Tamasudare
Nankin Tamasudare
, in which the performer creates large figures using a bamboo mat. In the 19th century, Italian street musicians (mainly from
Liguria it, Ligure , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demographics1_info1 = , demographics1_title2 ...

Liguria
,
Emilia Romagna egl, Emigliàn (masculine) egl, Emiglièna (feminine) rgn, Rumagnòl (masculine) rgn, Rumagnòla (feminine) it, Emiliano (masculine) it, Emiliana (feminine) or it, Romagnolo (masculine) it, Romagnola (feminine) , population_note = ...
,
Basilicata it, Lucano (man) it, Lucana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demographics1_info1 = ...
) began to roam worldwide in search of fortune. Musicians from
Basilicata it, Lucano (man) it, Lucana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demographics1_info1 = ...
, especially the so-called ''
Viggianesi
Viggianesi
'', would later become professional instrumentalists in symphonic orchestras, especially in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
. The street musicians from Basilicata are sometimes cited as an influence on
Hector Malot Hector-Henri Malot (Hector Malot) (20 May 1830 – 18 July 1907) was a French writer born in La Bouille, Seine-Maritime. He studied law in Rouen Rouen (, ; or ) is a city on the River Seine in northern France. It is the capital of the regio ...

Hector Malot
's ''
Sans Famille ''Sans Famille'' (Translation: ''Without Family'' English title: ''Nobody's Boy'') is an 1878 French novel by Hector Malot. The most recent English translation is ''Alone in the World'' by Adrian de Bruyn, 2007. The novel was reportedly inspired b ...
''. In the United States,
medicine show 250px, A reenactment of a medicine show in Ringwood, Illinois Medicine shows were touring acts (traveling by truck, horse, or wagon teams) that peddled "miracle cure" patent medicines and other products between various entertainments. They devel ...
s proliferated in the 19th century. They were traveling vendors selling
elixir An elixir is a sweet liquid used for medical purposes, to be taken orally and intended to cure one's illness. When used as a pharmaceutical preparation, an elixir contains at least one active ingredient An active ingredient is the ingredient ...
s and
potion A potion (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Rom ...
s to improve the health. They would often employ entertainment acts as a way of making the clients feel better. The people would often associate this feeling of well-being with the products sold. After these performances, they would "pass the hat".
One-man band A one-man band is a musician who plays a number of instruments simultaneously using their hands, feet, limbs, and various mechanical or electronic contraptions. One-man bands also often sing while they perform. The simplest type of "one-man band" ...
s have historically performed as buskers playing a variety of instruments simultaneously. One-man bands proliferated in urban areas in the 19th and early 20th centuries and still perform to this day. A current one-man band plays all their instruments acoustically usually combining a guitar, a harmonica, a drum and a tambourine. They may also include singing. Many still busk but some are booked to play at festivals and other events.
Folk music Folk music is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''musical form'' and musical style, althoug ...

Folk music
has always been an important part of the busking scene. Cafe, restaurant, bar and pub busking is a mainstay of this art form. Two of the more famous folk singers are
Woody Guthrie Woodrow Wilson Guthrie (; July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967) was an American singer-songwriter, who is considered to be one of the most significant figures in American folk music. His music, including songs such as " This Land Is Your Land" ...

Woody Guthrie
and
Joan Baez Joan Chandos Baez (; born January 9, 1941) is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and activist. Her contemporary folk music often includes songs of protest and social justice. Baez has performed publicly for over 60 years, releasing over ...

Joan Baez
. The
delta blues Delta blues is one of the earliest-known styles of blues Blues is a music genre and musical form which was originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s by African-Americans from roots in Plantation-era songs, Africa ...
men were mostly itinerant musicians emanating from the Mississippi Delta region of the USA around the early 1940s and on.
B.B. King Riley B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015), known professionally as B.B. King, was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer. He introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending, shimmering v ...
is one famous example who came from these roots. The
counterculture A counterculture is a culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilitie ...
of the
hippie A hippie, also spelled hippy, especially in UK English, was a member of the counterculture of the 1960s The counterculture of the 1960s was an anti-establishment An anti-establishment view or belief is one which stands in opposition ...

hippie
s of the 1960s occasionally staged "be-ins", which resembled some present-day buskers festivals. Bands and performers would gather at public places and perform for free, passing the hat to make money. The
San Francisco Bay Area The San Francisco Bay Area, popularly referred to as the Bay Area, is a populous region surrounding the San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, San Pablo Bay, San Pablo, and Suisun Bay estuary, estuaries in Northern California. Although the exact bou ...
was at the epicenter of this movement – be-ins were staged at
Golden Gate Park Golden Gate Park, located in San Francisco San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn fɹənˈsɪskoʊ/; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis"), officially the City and County of San Francisco, is a cultural, com ...

Golden Gate Park
and San Jose's Bee Stadium and other venues. Some of the bands that performed in this manner were
Janis Joplin Janis Joplin (January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970) was an American singer-songwriter who sang rock music, rock, soul, and blues music. One of the most successful and widely known rock stars of her era, she was noted for her powerful mezzo-sopr ...
with
Big Brother and the Holding Company Big Brother and the Holding Company is an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, i ...
, the
Grateful Dead The Grateful Dead was an American rock music, rock band formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. The band is known for its eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, Folk music, folk, country music, country, jazz, bluegrass music, bluegrass, ...
,
Jefferson Airplane Jefferson Airplane was an American rock band based in San Francisco San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn fɹənˈsɪskoʊ/; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis"), officially the City and County of San Fran ...

Jefferson Airplane
,
Quicksilver Messenger Service Quicksilver Messenger Service (sometimes credited as simply Quicksilver) are an American psychedelic rock band formed in 1965 in San Francisco San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn fɹənˈsɪskoʊ/; Spanish language, Spanish for "Franc ...
,
Country Joe and the Fish Country Joe and the Fish was an American psychedelic rock band formed in Berkeley, California, in 1965. The band was among the influential groups in the San Francisco music scene during the mid- to late 1960s. Much of the band's music was wri ...

Country Joe and the Fish
,
Moby Grape Moby Grape is an American rock group from the 1960s, known for having all five members contribute to singing and songwriting, which collectively merged elements of folk music, blues Blues is a music genre and musical form which was origina ...
and
Jimi Hendrix James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942September 18, 1970) was an American musician, singer, and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most ...

Jimi Hendrix
.
Christmas carol A Christmas carol is a carol (a song or hymn A hymn is a type of song, usually religious and partially coincident with devotional song, specifically written for the purpose of adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or ...
ing can also be a form of busking, as
wassailing The tradition of wassailing (''alt sp'' wasselling) falls into two distinct categories: the house-visiting wassail and the orchard-visiting wassail. The house-visiting wassail is the practice of people going door-to-door, singing and offering a dr ...
included singing for alms,
wassail Wassail (, , likely from Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian was a North Germanic languages, North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and their Viking expansion, overseas settlements from ab ...
or some other form of refreshment such as
figgy pudding Figgy Pudding (occasionally Piggy-Pudding) is a vague term used for a class of traditional Christmas dishes usually forming sweet and savory cakes, containing a sour-sweet creamy layer of honey, fruits and nuts. In later times, rum or other dist ...
. In the Republic of Ireland, the traditional Wren Boys, and in England
Morris Dancing Morris dancing is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers, usually wearing bell pads on their shins. Implements such as stick ...

Morris Dancing
can be considered part of the busking tradition. In India and Pakistan's Gujarati region,
Bhavai Bhavai, also known as ''Vesha'' or ''Swang'', is a popular folk theatre form of western India, especially in Gujarat Gujarat (, ) is a state on the western coast of India with a coastline of – most of which lies on the Kathiawar penins ...
is a form of street art where there are plays enacted in the village, the barot or the village singer also is part of the local entertainment scene. In the 2000s, some performers have begun "Cyber Busking". Artists post work or performances on the Internet for people to download or "stream" and if people like it they make a donation using
PayPal PayPal Holdings, Inc. is an American multinational financial technology company operating an online payments system in the majority of countries that support online money transfers, and serves as an electronic alternative to traditional pape ...

PayPal
.


Forms

There are three basic forms of street performance "Circle shows" are shows that tend to gather a crowd around them. They usually have a distinct beginning and end. Usually these are done in conjunction with
street theatre A troupe of street theatre performers by the beach in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Street theatre is a form of theatrical Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors ...
,
puppeteer A puppeteer is a person who manipulates an inanimate object, called a puppet A puppet is an object, often resembling a human, animal or mythical figure, that is animated or manipulated by a person called a puppeteer A puppeteer is a perso ...

puppeteer
ing,
magicians Magician or The Magician may refer to: Performers * A practitioner of Magic (supernatural) * A practitioner of Magic (illusion) * Magician (fantasy), a character in a fictional fantasy context Entertainment Books * ''The Magician'', an 18th-cent ...
, comedians,
acrobats Acrobatics (from Ancient Greek ἀκροβατέω, ''akrobateo'', "walk on tiptoe, strut") is the performance of human feats of balance (ability), balance, agility, and motor coordination. Acrobatic skills are used in performing arts, sports, s ...

acrobats
,
juggle
juggle
rs and sometimes musicians. Circle shows can be the most lucrative. Sometimes the crowds attracted can be very large. A good busker will control the crowd so the patrons do not obstruct foot traffic. "Walk-by acts" are typically where the busker performs a musical, living statue or other act that does not have a distinct beginning or end, and the public usually watches for a brief time. A walk-by act may turn into a circle show if the act is unusual or very popular. "Stoplight performers" present their act and get contributions from vehicle occupants on a crosswalk while the traffic lights are red. A variety of disciplines can be used in such a format (juggling, break dancing, even magic tricks). Because of the short period of time available to them, stoplight performers must have a very brief, condensed routine. This form is seen more commonly in Latin America than elsewhere.


Collecting money

Buskers collect donations and tips from the public in a variety of containers and by different methods depending on the type of busking they are performing. For walk-by acts, their instrument case or a special can or box is often used. For circle shows the performer will typically collect money at the end of the show, although some performers will also collect during the show to ensure all audience members have had a chance to show appreciation for their skills. Sometimes a performer will employ a ''bottler'', ''hat man'', or ''pitch man'' to collect money from the audience. The term ''bottler'' is a British term that originated from the use of the top half of a bottle to collect money. The bottle had a leather flap inserted in the bottleneck and a leather pouch attached. This design allowed coins to be put in the bottle but did not allow them to be removed easily without the coins jingling against the glass. The first use of such contrivances was recorded by the famous
Punch and Judy Punch and Judy is a traditional puppet A puppet is an object, often resembling a human, animal or mythical figure, that is animated or manipulated by a person called a puppeteer. The puppeteer uses movements of their hands, arms, or con ...

Punch and Judy
troupe of puppeteers in early Victorian times.Somerville, Chris (1997
Who is Mr Punch
''punchandjudy.com''. Chris Somerville. Retrieved 2010-06-14.
Bottling itself can be an art form, and the difference between a good and a bad bottler can be crucial to the amount of money earned on a pitch. A good bottler is able to encourage audience members to give money. A bottler usually gets a cut of the money made on the pitch. Prior to the 20th century, it was common for buskers to use a trained monkey as a bottler. That practice has diminished or ceased in many countries due to changes in social attitudes and animal control laws. However, some modern buskers use a device known as
monkey stick A monkey stick (also called a mendoza, mendozer, Murrumbidgee river rattler, lagerphone or zob stick)'' The Bushwackers (band), The Bushwackers Australian Song Book'', new edition 1981, published by Anne O'Donovan Pty Ltd, : ''Lagerphone or Murr ...
which is a long stick with bottle caps or small cymbals attached to make a noise before a show or prior to making a collection.


Pitches

The place where a performance occurs is called a "pitch". A good pitch can be the key to success as a busker. An act that might make money at one place and time may not work at all in another setting. Popular pitches tend to be public places with large volumes of pedestrian traffic, high visibility, low background noise and as few elements of interference as possible. Good locations may include tourist spots, popular parks, entertainment districts including many restaurants, cafés, bars and pubs and theaters, subways and bus stops, outside the entrances to large concerts and sporting events, almost any
plaza A town square (or square, plaza, public square, city square, urban square, or piazza) is an open public space A public space is a place that is generally open and accessible to people. Roads (including the pavement), public square A ...

plaza
or
town square A town square (or square, plaza, public square, city square, urban square, or piazza) is an open public space A public space is a place that is generally open and accessible to people. Roads (including the pavement), public square A ...

town square
as well as
zócalo The Zócalo () or Plaza del Zócalo is the common name of the main square in central Mexico City ) , blank1_name_sec1 = Human Development Index, HDI , blank1_info_sec1 = 0.897 Very High , blank_name_sec2 ...

zócalo
s in Latin America and
piazza A town square (or square, plaza, public square, city square, urban square, or piazza) is an open public space A public space is a place that is generally open and accessible to people. Roads (including the sidewalk, pavement), public squar ...

piazza
s in other regions. Other places include shopping malls, strip malls, and outside supermarkets, although permission is usually required from management for these. In her book, ''Underground Harmonies: Music and Politics in the Subways of New York'', Susie J. Tanenbaum examined how the adage "Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast" plays out in regards to busking. Her sociological studies showed that in areas where buskers regularly perform, crime rates tended to go down, and that those with higher education attainment tended to have a more positive view of buskers than did those of lesser educational attainment.Tanenbaum, Susie, J. (1995)
Underground Harmonies: Music and Politics in the Subways of New York.
''Google books''; Cornell University Press.
Some cities encourage busking in particular areas, giving preference to city government-approved buskers and even publishing schedules of performances.MTA: Arts for Transit: Music Under New York
''mta.info'';
Metropolitan Transportation Authority The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is a New York state public benefit corporations, public benefit corporation responsible for public transportation in the New York metropolitan area, New York City metropolitan area of the U.S. st ...
, New York. Retrieved 2016-07-15.
Many cities in the United States have particular areas known to be popular spots for buskers. Performers are found at many locations like Mallory Square in
Key West Key West ( es, Cayo Hueso) is an island in the Straits of Florida 250px, The Straits of Florida The Straits of Florida, Florida Straits, or Florida Strait ( es, Estrecho de Florida) is a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrow, t ...

Key West
, in
New Orleans New Orleans (,New Orleans
, in New York around
Central Park Central Park is an urban park in New York City located between the Upper West Side, Upper West and Upper East Sides of Manhattan. It is the List of New York City parks, fifth-largest park in the city by area, covering . It is the most visited ...

Central Park
, , and the subway systems, in San Francisco, in Washington, D.C. around the transit centers, in Los Angeles around
Venice Beach Venice is a neighborhood of the city of Los Angeles Los Angeles (; es, Los Ángeles; "The Angels"), officially the City of Los Angeles and often abbreviated as L.A., is the List of cities and towns in California, largest city in Californ ...

Venice Beach
, the
Santa Monica Santa Monica () is a beachfront city in western Los Angeles County, California Los Angeles County, officially the County of Los Angeles, and sometimes abbreviated as L.A. County, is the List of the most populous counties in the United Stat ...

Santa Monica
Third Street Promenade The Third Street Promenade is a Pedestrian malls in the United States, pedestrian mall esplanade, shopping, dining and entertainment complex in the downtown area of Santa Monica, California which originally opened as the Santa Monica Mall on Novemb ...
, and the Hollywood area, in Chicago on
Maxwell Street Maxwell Street is an east-west street in Chicago, Illinois (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , ...
, in the
Delmar Loop The Delmar Loop, often referred to by St. Louis residents simply as The Loop, is an entertainment, cultural and restaurant district in University City, Missouri and the adjoining western edge of St. Louis, Missouri near Washington University in ...
district of
St. Louis St. Louis () is the second-largest city in Missouri Missouri is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State ( ...

St. Louis
, and many other locations throughout the US. Busking is still quite common in Scotland, Ireland, and England with musicians and other street performers of varying talent levels.


Legislation

The first recorded instances of laws affecting buskers were in
ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who stud ...
in 462 BC. The Law of the Twelve Tables made it a crime to sing about or make parodies of the government or its officials in public places; the penalty was death.
Louis the Pious Louis the Pious (16 April 778 – 20 June 840), also called the Fair, and the Debonaire, was King of the Franks The Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples whose name was first mentioned in 3rd-century Ro ...

Louis the Pious
"excluded '''' and '''', which included all entertainers without noble protection, from the privilege of justice". In 1530
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for Wives of Henry VIII, his six marriages, including his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon ...
ordered the licensing of minstrels and players, fortune-tellers, pardoners and fencers, as well as beggars who could not work. If they did not obey they could be whipped on two consecutive days. In the United States under
constitutional law Constitutional law is a body of law which defines the role, powers, and structure of different entities within a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. ...
and most European
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
, the protection of
artistic Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas. There is no generally agreed definition of what constitutes art, and i ...
free speech Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change without constraint. Something is "free" if it can change easily and is not constrained in its present state. In philoso ...

free speech
extends to busking. In the U.S. and many countries, the designated places for free speech behavior are the public
park A park is an area of natural, semi-natural or planted space set aside for human enjoyment and recreation Recreation is an activity of leisure Leisure has often been defined as a quality of experience or as free time. Free time is ...

park
s, streets,
sidewalk A sidewalk (North American English), pavement (British English), footpath (Oceania, Oceanian English), or footway, is a path along the side of a road. Usually constructed of concrete or asphalt, it is designed for pedestrians. A sidewalk may acc ...

sidewalk
s,
thoroughfare A thoroughfare is a primary passage or way as a transit route through regularly trafficked areas, whether by road on land, dry land or, by Extension (semantics), extension, via watercraft or aircraft. On land, a thoroughfare may refer to anythin ...
s and
town square A town square (or square, plaza, public square, city square, urban square, or piazza) is an open public space A public space is a place that is generally open and accessible to people. Roads (including the pavement), public square A ...

town square
s or
plaza A town square (or square, plaza, public square, city square, urban square, or piazza) is an open public space A public space is a place that is generally open and accessible to people. Roads (including the pavement), public square A ...

plaza
s. Under certain circumstances even private property may be open to buskers, particularly if it is open to the general public and busking does not interfere with its function and management allows it or other forms of free speech behaviors or has a history of doing so.Berger v. Seattle, C03-3238JLR
(PDF). Decision, U.S. District Court, Western District of WA at Seattle, 22 April 2004. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
While there is no universal
code of conduct A code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the norms Norm, the Norm or NORM may refer to: In academic disciplines * Norm (geology), an estimate of the idealised mineral content of a rock * Norm (philosophy), a standard in normative ethics ...
for buskers, there are common law practices that buskers must conform to. Most jurisdictions have corresponding statutory laws. In the UK busking regulation is not universal with most laws (if there are any) being governed by local councils. Some towns in the British Isles limit the licenses issued to bagpipers because of the volume and difficulty of the instrument. In Great Britain places requiring licenses for buskers may also require auditions of anyone applying for a busking license. Oxford City Council have decided to enact a public spaces protection order. Some venues that do not regulate busking may still ask performers to abide by voluntary rules. Some places require a special to use electronically amplified sound and may have limits on the
volume Volume is a scalar quantity expressing the amount Quantity or amount is a property that can exist as a multitude Multitude is a term for a group of people who cannot be classed under any other distinct category, except for their shared fact ...
of sound produced. It is common law that buskers or others should not impede pedestrian traffic flow, block or otherwise obstruct entrances or exits, or do things that
endanger Endangerment is a type of crime involving conduct that is wrongful and reckless or wikt: wanton, wanton, and likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm to another person. There are several kinds of endangerment, each of which is a criminal a ...
the public. It is common law that any disturbing or noisy behaviors may not be conducted after certain hours in the night. These curfew limitations vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It is common law that "performing blue" (i.e. using material that is sexually explicit or any vulgar or obscene remarks or gestures) is generally prohibited unless performing for an adults-only environment such as in a bar or pub. In London, busking is prohibited in the entire area of the City of London. The London Underground provides busking permits in tube stations. Most London boroughs do not license busking, but they have optional powers, under the London Local Authorities Act 2000, if there is sufficient reason to do so. Where these powers have not been adopted, councils can rely on other legislation including the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to deal with noise nuisance from buskers and the Highways Act to deal with obstructions. Camden Council is currently looking into further options to control the problem of nuisance buskers and the playing of amplified music to the detriment of local residents and businesses. Buskers may find themselves targeted by thieves due to the very open and public nature of their craft. Buskers may have their earnings, instruments or props stolen. One particular technique that thieves use against buskers is to pretend to make a donation while actually taking money out instead, a practice known as "dipping" or "skimming". George Burns described his days as a youthful busker this way:The Ultimate Cigar Aficionado: Ninety-eight-year-old George Burns Shares Memories of His Life
, article and interview by Cigar Aficionado Online


Notable performers

*5 Seconds of Summer, Australian pop rock band. Prior to achieving international fame, the band busked in Rouse Hill, New South Wales, Rouse Hill and other parts of Sydney. *Abby the Spoon Lady is a professional spoon player, street performer, and Busking (U.S. case law), busking advocate who lives in Asheville, North Carolina, Asheville, NC. *Josephine Baker started street dancing to make money and was recruited for the St. Louis Chorus vaudeville show at the age of 15, which started her dancing career. *Joshua Bell, a noted classical violinist, posed as a busker in the L'Enfant Plaza station, L'Enfant Plaza Metro station in Washington, D.C. at rush hour in 2007, as part of a feature in ''The Washington Post''. In the 45 minutes that Bell played, only seven people out of over a thousand who passed by stopped to watch, and he took in just over $32. Gene Weingarten later won a Pulitzer Prize for the story. * Catfish the Bottleman a well-known busker from Sydney, Australia, so inspired Van McCann of Catfish and the Bottlemen that he named his band after him. He watched him perform as a child and said that it was his first memory of music. *Tracy Chapman began her career busking in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. *Mike Doughty, former singer for Soul Coughing, released ''Mike Doughty, Busking'', which contains 12 tracks from a 2007 busking performance in the 14th Street/Sixth Avenue (New York City Subway), 14th Street subway station in New York City. *Newton Faulkner has been known to busk and video footage of him busking has been made available on YouTube, including a full acoustic cover of Queen (band), Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody". *Benjamin Franklin, the American inventor and statesman, was a street performer. He composed songs, poetry and prose about current events and went out in public and performed them. He would then sell printed copies of them to the public. He was dissuaded from busking by his father who convinced him it was not worth the stigmas that some people attach to it. It was this experience that helped form his beliefs in free speech, which he wrote about in his journals. *G4 (band), G4, the British popera quartet, performed as buskers across London during their college days. *Shannon Hoon, former singer for Blind Melon, was known to busk all over the U.S. *Colin Huggins, a classical pianist who performs on a Steinway grand piano in Washington Square Park and other parks in Greenwich Village, New York City. *Henry Johnson (acrobat) (1806–1910), circus acrobat and street entertainer using
acrobatics Acrobatics (from Ancient Greek ἀκροβατέω, ''akrobateo'', "walk on tiptoe, strut") is the performance of human feats of balance (ability), balance, agility, and motor coordination. Acrobatic skills are used in performing arts, sports, s ...

acrobatics
, tightrope-walking etc. *'Guy Laliberté was a street performer when he founded the Cirque du Soleil theatrical company in 1984. *Loreena McKennitt, developing a passion for Celtic music, learned to play the Celtic harp and began busking at various places, including St. Lawrence Market in Toronto in order to earn money to record her first album. *Edward McMichael was a celebrated street musician known as Seattle's "Tuba Man", who busked outside the city's various sports and performing arts venues. In 2008, he was killed by attackers who were attempting to rob him. *Sterling Magee and Adam Gussow, AKA Satan and Adam, were busking on 125th Street (Manhattan), 125th Street in Harlem, New York City, in the summer of 1987 when the members of U2, accompanied by a film crew, paused to watch the blues duo. The scene later appeared in the film ''Rattle and Hum''. *George Michael used to busk near the London Underground, performing songs such as A Night at the Opera (Queen album)#"'39", '39 by Queen (band), Queen. *Peter Mulvey, the singer-songwriter, recorded an entire album down in the Boston Subway, where he was a regular busker. In most cases, songs were recorded in one or two takes. *Kristyna Myles Myles won the BBC Radio 5 Live Busker of the Year competition in 2005 and has gone on to sign a recording contract with Decca. Her debut album is due for release in September 2012. *Paul Oscher, a famous Blues musician and harp player, has busked as "Brooklyn Slim" on the Venice Boardwalk to try out new material. Oscher, a two-time Blues Music Award, W.C Handy Award winner, was the harp player for Muddy Waters and his band in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He currently performs at blues festivals in the U.S. and internationally. *Natalia Paruz, who can be seen in movies such as ''Dummy (2002 film), Dummy'' and heard on many movie soundtracks, has been playing the musical saw in the New York City subway since 1994. *Alice Tan Ridley, busked in New York City subway stations for 30 years; semi-finalist in ''America's Got Talent'', mother of Gabourey Sidibe *Rodrigo y Gabriela, began their career by busking in Dublin, Ireland. *Peg Leg Sam, a famous harmonica player from South Carolina, preferred busking over all other forms/venues. His most requested song was "John Henry (song), John Henry". *Daniel Seavey performed in the streets of Portland, Oregon, and subsequently joined boy band Why Don't We. *Ketch Secor, whose group Old Crow Medicine Show started with busking and remains committed to it, has said: "People ... have short attention spans. ... So if you can get 'em to stop ... if you can get 'em to listen with a song, then you've got yourself a keeper." *The Piccadilly Rats, street performance group from Manchester, England *Tuba Skinny, street band in New Orleans *Rod Stewart began hanging around folk singer Wizz Jones and busking, at Leicester Square and other London spots in 1962.Ewbank and Hildred, ''Rod Stewart: The New Biography'', pp. 24–28. On several trips over the next 18 months Jones and Stewart took their act to Brighton and then to Paris, sleeping under bridges over the River Seine, and then finally to Barcelona. Finally this resulted in Stewart being rounded up and deported from Spain for vagrancy (people), vagrancy during 1963. *Tash Sultana, an Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who busked on the streets of Melbourne. *KT Tunstall, a popular Scottish singer, has been recorded busking in Glasgow. *Nik Turner, former saxophonist with Hawkwind and Inner City Unit, continues to busk regularly in the streets of his adopted hometown Cardigan, Ceredigion, Cardigan. *T. Rex (band), T. Rex members Marc Bolan and Steve Peregrin Took first performed as an acoustic guitar/bongos duo when they went busking together in Hyde Park, London, Hyde Park in summer 1967 after their electric equipment had been confiscated by Track Records and their two bandmates had both left. In this acoustic format, the duo would go on to release three albums. *Violent Femmes were discovered by James Honeyman-Scott (of The Pretenders) on 23 August 1981, when the band was busking on a street corner in front of the Oriental Theatre (Milwaukee), Oriental Theatre, the Milwaukee venue that The Pretenders would be playing later that night. Chrissie Hynde invited them to play a brief acoustic set after the opening act. *Yamunabai Waikar, decorated Indian folk–Lavani–Tamasha artist busked with her mother as a child. *Hayley Westenra at one time busked on the streets of Christchurch, New Zealand.Hayley Westenra Biography
''askmen.com''; IGN Entertainment.
*Damo Suzuki, the singer of the band Can (band), Can, was found by band members Czukay and Liebezeit busking outside a Munich café and was asked to perform with the band that same night. *Unipiper, a performer in Portland, Oregon, is known for playing the bagpipes on a unicycle. *Keytar Bear, a busker in Boston, Massachusetts, who wears a bear suit and plays a keytar. *Tones and I, an Australian indie-pop singer-songwriter and musician. *Don Partridge, an English singer and songwriter, known as the "king of the buskers". Achieved unexpected commercial success in the UK and Europe in the late 1960s with the songs "Rosie", "Blue Eyes" and "Breakfast On Pluto". *Billy Waters (busker), Billy Waters, a one-legged busker who rose to prominence in London during the nineteenth century.


Gallery

File:Fotothek df roe-neg 0000222 003 Straßenmusiker und Passanten.jpg, German street performers play for pedestrians in 1948 File:Arles Busker IMG 8299.jpg, Classical fiddler in Arles, France File:Street musicians in Prague.jpg, A street performance trio on their pitch outside Prague Castle File:Mother & son playing lute. Lhasa 1993.jpg, Mother and son busking in Lhasa, Tibet, 1993 File:Street Acrobats in DC - 2013-06-07 - 16.JPG, Acrobat jumping over volunteers in Washington, D.C. File:Street performer, Sutton High Street, Sutton, Surrey, Greater London (2).jpg, Violinist in Sutton High Street, Sutton, London File:Malabarista de Rua.jpg, Street performer using a fire devilstick in São Paulo, Brazil File:Street drummer in Portland, Oregon.webm, Street drummer performing outside Pioneer Place in Portland, Oregon File:Street Musician North Fourth Street Ann Arbor Michigan.JPG, Street musician playing congas, Ann Arbor, Michigan


See also

*Busking Day *:Busking venues *List of circus skills *List of busking locations *Music Under New York *Skomorokh *Street artist *Street painting *Street theatre


References


External links

Organisations
World Street Music – international project about street musiciansBusker Central
Calendar of worldwide busking events
National Association of Street Artists UKStreet ArtsPhotographs of buskers around the world
by Tudor ApMadoc
The Busking Project
celebrating and supporting buskers across the world. Press
"Striving to make music under the NYC streets"
Daniel Strieff and Jon Sweeney. 24 August 2004. MSNBC.
"What the ailing record industry can learn from a successful subway musician"
Nicholas Thompson. December 2003. ''Washington Monthly''.
"The Real Piano Man"
Steven Kurutz, 30 August 2008. ''The New York Times''. Other * * Bennett, Elizabeth, and McKay, George. 2019.
From Brass Bands to Buskers: Street Music in the UK.
' Norwich: AHRC/UEA. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.18521.98408 {{Authority control Street performance, Buskers, Busking venues, Informal occupations Occupations in music Performance art Theatre Comedy Music performance Magic (illusion) Articles containing video clips