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Busking in London: The sound entertaining Londoners

Busking has made the sense of sound in London rather more diverse by offerings its entertainment to tube passengers.

Busking might be familiar to many who use the underground, but for those who do not know what busking is, it is as an act performed by individuals in order to entertain the mass public in the hope of receiving money in the form of charity.

The TFL (Transport for London) has been adopting the busking scheme since 2003. In order to busk in an underground station, a busker is required to obtain a permit from the TFL.

Every year, more than 3.5 million commuters are enchanted by the melody of London’s renowned buskers. One would find it hard to believe how many hours of live music is performed every year by these buskers, Want to take a guess?

A mind blowing 100,000 hours of live music is performed every year to a grand total of 3.5 million Londoners.

The effects of buskers on Londoners

As you walk by Madame Tussaud's towards Baker street station every morning during rush hour, you can witness the daily routine of Londoners. They can be seen rushing to the tube station every morning during peak hours and thousands of them can be seen scuttling into the underground tunnels.

As you take the Bakerloo line towards Oxford Circus, it is evident exactly how busy the life of Londoners is as Oxford Circus is the heart of London. It makes it a rather interesting underground station as you can find various numbers of performers inside the station as well as outside.

People rush to get their seats on the train while others are still on their way out. Then a beautiful guitar sound overtakes the noisy Londoners and underground Tannoy announcements.

Once, I stumbled across a blonde man in his thirties with his guitar, standing in the corridor of Oxford Circus station. He started playing his guitar and singing ‘House of the rising sun' by The Animals.

The music he was playing was giving the commuters a warm and welcomed feeling during their journey. Their gestures revealed their readiness to release the pressure which had accumulated within them during their busy week.

I saw two lovers holding hands; all of a sudden I was taken by a melodious voice echoing along the corridor. It was a breathtaking experience; what else could one ask for at the beginning of the day?

 The enchanting melody of this blonde man was working wonders on commuters, as it drew smiles on their faces, relaxing the stress of their busy lives by rejuvenating them through the sound of music.

As I went closer to take a picture of his face, he looked glum but rather attractive. A young lady came to drop some pennies into his guitar bag. “May I take a picture with you?” She asked with a smile.

The guitarist hardly smiled for the photograph I took of them. He later went on to play a depressing musical theme that made the surrounding atmosphere sad and drove me down an endless spiral of despair.

Christine walked away, and I continued my hunt for similar singers scattered around the underground, all having different stories along with melodies. The sound of the music continues to live on, in the lovely musical scene of London’s underground.

Words, audio and images by Lina Musallam

More articles by the author:

Edgware Road: The Arabs’ capital in London

Women and the spiritual sense of Islam

Emel Mathlouthi sings for Tunisia in London

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