#1
Sometimes I read/hear about a situation where some old man will walk up to a street corner, take out his guitar and just start playing his music(usually blues) for hours.

I've never seen anything like this, and it doesn't seem like something that would happen much in our current times, but how were these musicians able to come up with music to play for so long?
For electric guitar, it's pretty easy to solo and improv over a backing track for long periods of time, but what can you do with acoustic guitar? I can only keep playing the same stale riffs and boring chords.
So does anyone have any advice for a solo acoustic player? I'd like to get into blues, but i'm not really sure how to begin. Anyone know any good resources for beginners? Thanks in advance you guys.
#2
its good to learn a few basic riffs, so you can really get a feel for it. from there, making a few little dittys just takes some time. i might tab out some riffs in a little while.
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#3
You usually have a list of songs you know completely by heart that should last at least long enough that the persons interested in your music and stop to listen don't hear the same stuff twice.
If you would know about 6 covers for example you could already sit on the street for an afternoon. It is not only blues where you can do this, anything goes from rock tot jazz etc. You just need to practice on playing a song perfectly without needing any sheet music or tabs, which is different than the practicing you do at the moment no doubt.
#4
well... something tells me that there was a lot less available media to distract them(if you mean a long time ago) from practicing their guitars! often times today, we spend more time on our computers reading about guitars instead of playing them. i know im guilty of it. but hey, reading about guitars brings me certain joys that playing one cant... for some odd reason, haha.
#5
Drugs... and the love of their instrument, but mostly the drugs. Some of them live on the streets and maybe their content with doing what they love most. Drugs.
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#6
Dude, it's the blues... you can take the blues box and just play random crap in the 12 bar format and it sounds like you know what you're doing. I bet some people could play for days. Listen to a blues channel on an internet radio station or something some time... 95% of the songs have basically the same feel. You can easily borrow riffs from other songs, make up stuff, connect multiple songs, all kinds of stuff, real easily. Once you get a feel for it, that's exactly what these guys are doing, they're playing based on the feeling, they're not "playing songs".

I have only been playing for a year but I have learned a very small level of improvising in the blues scale, and when I got my new electric, I drank about 6 shots of whiskey, turned on a backing track for the 12 bar blues in the key of A, and started just making stuff up. Next thing I knew, I had been playing for 3 hours and it only felt like maybe 20-30 minutes. If I can do that, can you imagine what these old codgers who grew up with that stuff can do? It would be much higher quality, and they could go on and on for much longer if they wanted.
#7
I bought a 12 string today and the train carriage i rode home in was totally empty so i wanged it out and played blues non stop for the 20 minute journey home. Damn good fun!
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#8
Practice - practice in the moment. Try it. Sit on a street corner, and play for people. It's quite possibly one of the most liberating things to do. Just play. The more you try it, you'll find you start to develop ways to sound good on your own, to play everything at once. It does wonderful things for your confidence - not really boosting it as much as removing your inner repressions that stop you from doing new things. Just let go, go out, and play for people. Just one person stopping for a moment and smiling is worth so much more than words can express.
#9
i do it all the time. sometimes with my bass player and his acoustic bass and sometimes not. singing helps. just play anything you want really. if they dont like it theyll keep walking
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#10
They're called buskers.
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#11
I used to do this very thing back in my late teens. There was a city park right downtown and I lived a few blocks away. I'd walk there in the early morning during nice weather and sit on a railing of a little bridge over a creek in the park. Loads of people took that bridge on their way to work, which is why I chose it. I'd sit there for hours playing whatever felt good at the time. I'd mix it up you know. I never sang, simply because I hate the sound of my own voice, lol. I never asked for money, although I'd inevitably get someone who insisted they pay me. I was there just for the fun of it, and to hopefully brighten someones day in the process. After a while, you get to notice that a lot of the same people were coming by on their way wherever. They liked it, liked the idea that someone was there giving them a little bit of a smile in an otherwise dull existence. That's why we do it.
#12
I always wanted to take the train into NYC and try this. For the longest time i thought it would be considered illegal or something, lol.

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#14
Its called Busquing (sp?) And in my state you need a licsence for it but yeah, throw your guitar case down in front of you and start playin, people will drop change in all day. I did it for one hour and got a handful of change. Its kinda fun, but there are more lucrative ways of pimping your music.
#15
[quote="'Tommy[fin"]']All the buskers I've seen around here just play obvious crap like Stairway, Hotel California.. Badly. Over and over again.

Yea i hate that, theres some guy in a town near me called colchester who sometimes busks and he sings but he can't sing and when he was playing hotel california along with out of tune singing. I nearly died, oh, and did i mention? I passed this guy 3 times with hour spaces in between and each time he was playing frikkin hotel california! However, in a much less busy part, under a subway there was some guy playing away with no singing and it sounded great, i think i gave him about 2p
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Last edited by Ghopki02 at Jan 29, 2008,
#16
The UK seems to have more buskers than North America to me. If I go around Toronto for a while I'd be lucky to see more than a couple people playing guitar on the street (there's usually a guy at subway stations or other crowded places). Mostly just homeless people asking for spare change. But when I went to England, Ireland and Scotland in the summer, there was way more (maybe it was just a coincidence, but I noticed it).

anyways, I agree completely with what Nick_ said .
#17
I've done this a bunch. Not in the Detroit area where I live, but in Montreal and Quebec City. In Quebec City, (one of the coolest, most beautiful places I've been), you'll see this quite often around the gate to uppertown, lowertown, all over.

I'll take my guitar there and just jam along with some of those guys playing in the middle of town and on the Plains of Abraham. Sometimes I'll do this all day, and hang out at some late night jams at someone's place or just outside somewhere. My broken french is about as good as their broken english, but we get by just fine. Music is the universal language anyway
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#18
Quote by AndrewDulina
I always wanted to take the train into NYC and try this. For the longest time i thought it would be considered illegal or something, lol.


In many cities, it is illegal, without a permit.

It isn't uncommon for a guitarist to go play on the street. I see them all the time. Learn a decent number of songs, and go play outside for a while. It's fun! Just make sure you aren't interfering with businesses or other public institutions. Thats when you get in trouble.
Last edited by GC Shred Off at Jan 29, 2008,
#19
wow, a lot of these responses are really interesting. any more contributions?

oh and dgonz. what do you mean when you say you jam along with other people playing?
what are they playing?and... how do you know what to play in response??
it probably takes a lot of experience and skill, but how does it work? do people play songs that you happen to know, and you improvise solos for them? or..do you play your own improvised form of music from a scale in some key that you were able to identify just by listening? i really don't get it. I've only been playing for a year, so my guitar knowledge is really limited, sorry. thanks in advance again, and thanks to everyone who responded.
#21
Quote by jsfire90
oh and dgonz. what do you mean when you say you jam along with other people playing?
what are they playing?and... how do you know what to play in response??
it probably takes a lot of experience and skill, but how does it work? do people play songs that you happen to know, and you improvise solos for them? or..do you play your own improvised form of music from a scale in some key that you were able to identify just by listening? i really don't get it. I've only been playing for a year, so my guitar knowledge is really limited, sorry. thanks in advance again, and thanks to everyone who responded.


Well, there are usually different people playing different things. I play a lot of different styles, so if I hear something I like and want to jam along with, I'll see if it's cool with them, and just jump in. Usually it's nothing I've heard before, but a certain style or groove. Most of it is blues-y or jazz-y type stuff, and leaves a lot open to improvization. I'll get a feel for the groove, check out and hear what the others are playing, find the key or chords quick (if there is a constant key), and just play along. You can add extra parts, play a new melody, whatever - it's just jamming. When your musical "vocabulary" gets diverse, you'll be able to just jump in and jam with anyone.

For the one-trick ponies that will only (or can only) play one style, this is very unlikely for them unless you happen to find guys that just play songs you happen to know. I like a little bit of everything and actually like learning things I haven't played before, playing with people better than me, and putting myself in musical situations where I'm not that comfortable - so I can learn and grow.
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#22
dude, me and my buddy take our acoustics and sit around on benches in town and we just jam and make up words as we go along... its seriously the best fun you will have legally
*shifty eyes* haha, but seriously, just go out and fool around with some chords even power chords and really just jam. eventually you will come across stuff that sounds cool and then you play that and people hear it. honestly, playing guitar is not rocket science.
and with acoustics dave mustaine couldnt have put it any better.
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#23
Well its mostly that they improvise what they sing, then they just put in the chords depending on what it comes up to their mind quickly (thats how my uncle does it in times of elections woot!).
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#24
I agree that outdoor jamming isn't, or doesn't have to be rocket science. In fact, most of the guys I see jamming aren't necessarily the best musicians, but they do know how to groove and "just play".

More than exact, precise playing and getting the perfect notes and chords and trying to be impressive, it's more of a free feeling group "song" that everyone just contributes to - whatever that may be. I've jammed with guys where I'm not even really playing. I'm just doing some percussive strums to fatten the rhythm, or doing percussion on the sides, top and back of my guitar to add some latin-type feel to it. Between knocking, slapping, and tapping your nails on different part of an acoustic guitar, you can add all kinds of interesting beats and rhythms without playing a single note.

It's all whatever you feel fits that song. There is no wrong way to jam, as long as your adding something. Hell, you can even put that guitar down and tap out a groove on a beer bottle with a lighter if you want. I usually bring a tambourine and a little egg shaker when I go to. Once you get into that kind of jamming, it will carry over into all your playing, and you'll just add it to your musical bag of tricks, so to speak.

Most of the time, I don't even care about money either, and I pretty much never even take any. It's all about the music and playing for people. It's such a 60's hippie type of thing, but it's a great feeling and something you can do anywhere around the world: US, England, Spain, India, Morocco, Mexico, Ireland. Music is music, and most musicians like to hang out with other musicians. Well, all except for some close minded people that only like one thing and hate all other things. But they'd never be interested in something like this anyway.
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#25
The old man who busks down the market plays the sae songs every week, with the same strumming pattern on each song.

It could drive you crazy if you listened to it for long enough.

I always see buskers under the railway bridge on southend high street, sometimes you get some guys that are really good.
London is full of buskers too.
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#26
how do they do it?
They get a guitar and go play. Play what? Whatever they feel like.

There's not much to it, dude. I do it all the time.
#27
songs. i think they are called songs... yeah that sounds right.
#28
In New York, in the Subway at least, you need a permit to be a busker. I don't really know about above ground, but there are definitely a lot more performers in the subway. I always thought that was really cool.
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#29
Quote by Supro31
In New York, in the Subway at least, you need a permit to be a busker. I don't really know about above ground, but there are definitely a lot more performers in the subway. I always thought that was really cool.

There was quite a bit of controversy over that. I remember reading that the price of the permit was too high compared to the average yield, and buskers were protesting (I think one sued?). For many, it's their only source of income and even affording the permit is difficult. I always give a busker I see at least $2.00, I because I know how much the permit costs around here ($40).
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