Classical Guitar Busking.

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
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Classical Guitar Busking.

Post by Sebastian » Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:50 am

Hi, one of my desires was to go busking sooner or late, with mainly fingerstyle repertoire (pop and rock songs arrangements for solo guitar) and some classical guitar pieces.
The main concern about this thread is based on these questions:

1) How many times have you busked with solo classical guitar/fingerstyle repertoire?
2) How much time did you play in each particular busking session?
3) How many pieces did you play in each particular busking session? Which were those pieces?
4) At what times did you go busking and where? Are there any particular places/times you remember that were better for any particular reasons?

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Christopher Langley
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Re: Classical Guitar Busking.

Post by Christopher Langley » Tue Mar 12, 2019 4:33 am

Try to be in a high traffic area.

Try to actually be noticed and heard.

Try to play songs people will know and to be prepared for requests.

Pop and rock will certainly bring in more tips than classical.

Some others will chime in.
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Re: Classical Guitar Busking.

Post by Sebastian » Tue Mar 12, 2019 2:53 pm

Well thanks Christopher, that only answers one of my six questions but I still appreciate the comment and suggestion
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robert e
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Re: Classical Guitar Busking.

Post by robert e » Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:31 pm

Good luck, Sebastian!

I've never busked so I have little personal experience to share. I have performed on stage in public spaces (rock/pop bands) and casually played in public spaces (including solo classical and finger-picking). About a hundred years ago, I briefly followed a busker around for a college research paper.

Despite the inadequate qualifications, allow me to suggest that, for the most part, the answers to your questions are so specific to particular locations, times and transient crowd make-up that you'll likely get better answers from an hour of first-hand observation than anyone here can give you.

Beyond that, I won't presume to lecture you on safety, but that's first. Secondly, if you don't know the area well, scout. For good reasons, buskers prefer places like plazas and transit stations at busy times. Spend time in promising places and watch what happens. Mingle with the crowd, find out what the audience likes from their point of view.

Obviously, talk to the buskers (if any).

Something one may not think of: Of course, you'll have to be on good terms with the local police, but they are also potentially your best informants if you can get them talking. Just like anyone else, they have relationships to and opinions about music, but they are also trained observers, and they've been at the scene day in and day out. They can tell you what's popular, what spots sound best, which spots attract thieves or panhandlers, or get overrun by rushing commuters.

As for repertoire, I'm sure you realize that your answers can only come from doing and experimenting. Variety, material you know so well that you can pay some attention to the crowd. Don't make too many assumptions. I've seen buskers do well with just standard classical repertoire, even studies. Office lunchers and tourists don't necessarily want the same thing. Some crowds are mostly the same day to day, while others change daily, hourly, etc.

I'm just belaboring the obvious, now, so again good luck, and enjoy yourself! And let us know how it goes!

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Re: Classical Guitar Busking.

Post by mvp019a » Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:10 pm

I have a friend who was traveling and got delayed at an airport. She opened her case and decided to practice a while during her delay, and when she was done, she had some money in her case that she hadn't even noticed getting put there, nor was she looking for it. And her "repertoire" would definitely have been all classical.

I would imagine you don't need too many pieces because it is highly unlikely anyone is going to hang around for very long. I would bet you would need only 10 or 12 pieces (more if they are mostly very short pieces of less than 3 minutes), and can cycle through them repeatedly. Think of it as an outdoor rehearsal session for the pieces you know well...and you can get paid something for doing it.

Check your local laws as well. Where I live it is very busker friendly, but you cannot use amplification without a permit (generally not an issue for classical) and you have to be so many feet from a bank or ATM (I cannot recall how far; IIRC a couple of hundred feet or so.) And of course, it cannot be private property unless you have permission.

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Re: Classical Guitar Busking.

Post by Flawiler63 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:13 pm

Hi Sebastian
I regularly do busking sessions (in Summer) and play mainly classical. I enjoy playing "easy listening" pieces (Kindgren,LInnemann), some easy renaissance music, as well as (not too hard) classical pieces (eg. DeVisée, Logy, Sanz, Sor, Tarrega, Tisserand, Coldrick, Villa-Lobos. Then there are the crowd favourites like Classical Gas, Romance, Cavatina...
As I live in Ireland, I always include music by O'Carolan and well known Irish Tunes, in arrangements by among others, Loesberg and Jerry Willard - tourists in particular like them.
I normally play 2 to 3 hours for a session. I am quite good at sight reading, so I can play several hours of music (without repeating a piece). I consider my busking a sort of rehearsal for my gigs (background music) in restaurants.

Hope this helps a little and (partially) answers some of your questions.


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