When music comes on in a movie it makes a moment. That perfect moment striking an emotion or catching our attention. Music makes a moment reach all of our senses, surrounding us to a point of fulfilment. Instead of just seeing the scene in front of us and hearing the words spoken, music adds another layer to an experience, uniquely making it perfect and literally all that it can be. The sound of music to our ears is like putting the cream on top of a hot chocolate.
We all know that moment I’m talking about. The moment when the boy is about to kiss the girl finally at the end of a movie, or those three memorable notes in jaws, or the sad moment, or the liberating moment. Music is what makes that moment so powerful. It catches in your throat, or gets you terrified or excited, it gives you goose bumps that creep all over your skin making your hair stand on ends! Music prepares you for what’s to come, helping you understand and appreciate the scene in front and surrounding you.
Whilst there are infinite examples of this the one that resonates most clearly in my mind right now is The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2 Movie Trailer where all emotions displayed are encompassed in the phrase “those moments where you feel your life just lift up and take off”. That’s a trailer I’ve watched on repeat, getting goosebumps still do this day as I get swept up in it loving the changes of emotion and the power of the story – a story that feels quite familiar at the moment -…honestly the trailer is far better than the movie. Anyway back to what all this has to do with buskers… WELL!
We all know that in reality it’s not quite so easy, perfect or picturesque, as much as we might wish it was. It would be so easy if there was someone, like a big brother figure, that could auto play suitable music on cue and when necessary in our day to day lives. The only way it would actually work is if we walked around with our iPods in, choosing music we think at suitable at appropriate moments. But that’s not the same. Not only would it be a hassle and partly ruin the effect if we ourselves had to choose the music, but it would be rude if approached and spoken to by someone on the street or at a public place. Not to mention we would end up missing the atmosphere of the place we are exploring, which is exactly what music is trying to emphasise, not take away the attention from.
So! Not long go I realised buskers were the answer. They are just there as you turn a corner or are walking past, playing anything and everything adding to moments, perfecting them.
I can remember several moments during my travels or even just walking around the city at home when I have appreciated their presence. The first time I really noticed it I was standing at busy, bustling intersection in Jaipur, India. I was surrounded by vehicles, people, smells, bazar market stalls, crates, anything stereotypically India, you name it, it was there! Then this music came on, out of nowhere, from a vehicle or shop somewhere, I still don’t really know the source. I just stopped and looked at everything around me and literally said out loud “This is India!” It was phenomenal, and I can remember that moment as clearly today as if I could blink and be back there. Such a powerful moment made possible by music.
Then again in Turkey a truck drove past playing Turkish music and I felt that same feeling, bringing the fact that I was in Turkey home, making me realise this was really happening. Walking down a narrow winding Estonian alley way there was blind man sitting in a door way with a crowd of onlookers appreciating the music he was playing. I remember walking past and then walking away with a smile that showed my teeth very clearly. In Budapest we were up at Fisherman’s Bastion and two old men were playing Violin. They were playing Andrea Bocelli’s “It’s time to say goodbye,” a song that since my Nonno’s funeral has caused tears to roll down my cheeks at the sound of. But then at the top of the Bastion, looking out of Budapest I felt at ease, completely in love with where I was and feeling comfortable at the sound of that song, of those familiar notes. Wandering around the inside of St. Basil’s cathedral in Moscow there are men who sing from inside one of the little rooms, and you can hear the voices carry though out the building. It’s an incredible feeling, a feeling similar to that of choir singers whilst wandering around an old church. Christmas time is another memorable one, when christmas bands could be found in any town of the Netherlands playing christmas carols in big walking bands dressed head to toe in red and white santa style costumes. Metro’s are a common one too, having seen two fantastic ones so far in Paris. The first was a full orchestra set up in the intersection of the underground at one of the main stations where you swap lines. They were playing Beethoven and they sounded incredible. It was astonishing to see the full orchestra in such a small, busy space, but they made it work.
Finally this morning I had just spent a fantastic hour or so exploring the Sacré Coeur and Montmartre when I walked back down the steps to find a man playing in the middle of the steps. Once again the first song I heard him play was Andre Bocelli’s “It’s time to say goodbye”. I sat, I listened, and I looked out in front of me at the incredible view over Paris from the steps of the Sacre Coeur. I don’t know quite how long I sat there. Maybe close to half an hour. It was beautiful. I love views, and I was perfectly happy. So perfectly content in that moment, that long moment that I know I will never forget.
I make a pointed note of tipping them when I experience a moment like that. When they have added to my experience, made it extra special by being the auto play music right on cue!