Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Busking in China

Once when I was small, I saw a middle-aged man singing in a shopping-centre. I asked who he was. It was explained to me: “if you don’t do well in school, that’s what you might end up doing for a living.”

There are very few buskers in Shenzhen. When I first came here late last summer, I wondered if this was because their reputation isn’t good.

We are the first generation to have mp3s, video-sharing websites, and i-pods. As well as in bars, concert-halls, and tea-houses, we have recorded music in our offices, cars and living-rooms. We live in the age of the global village, when we can enjoy African folk music, Latin dance, and the Great Composers of the West, without the inconvenience of paying for a ticket to see them.

I wanted to know, can street performers still really move people? Will people look down on unknown, undecorated, artists?

At the beginning of last year, I began writing songs in Mandarin. Since then, I’ve wanted to make people hear my music, but I have no idea as to how to enter the music business.

Performing on the street is different to more traditional types of performance. There is no stage, no tickets, the audience can reach out and touch the performer. It can add some color to the streets of this busy and businesslike city.

Before I began, I didn’t know whether I was a great artist, or an eccentric daydreamer. Now, I am happy to call myself a great daydreamer.

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