Bare Voiced Busking

The first time was like shouting into the wind. I felt invisible and unheard and I did stupid things. My hands were empty, would anyone listen to me without my drum? I lasted half an hour before my voice began to break. My tips were about what they would have been with the drum. I was catching ears, getting compliments, even during rush hour in a space people run past on their way to everywhere.

I know better. Acoustically I was in one of the best spots in the system. All I had to do was sing to the opposite wall, not ten feet away. We all do these things, we let little things throw us off balance and we work against ourselves.

This injury is akin to a final exam from the Universe, or that’s the way I’m going to look at it, anyway. It means it’s time to take my craft to the next level. I’m much more dependent on the drum than I realized, and it’s time to see how far I can go without it. It’s time for my art to be carried on the breath, my voice, and it’s past time to get my tinwhistle skills back into shape.

The next times were much easier. I tried out several spots, and so had some basis for comparison. I can still play most of the spots I used before. My take is about the same as it ever was, the only real issue is adding in repertoire. That is only a matter of time and practice. The list grows every time. Oddly enough, a lot of the songs I thought absolutely required a drum really don’t. Follow Me Up To Carlow, one of the bloodiest war songs I know, works just as well with just a voice. All I have to do is remember that I don’t have to fill the whole space, I just have to sing. The attendant in the kiosk at the other end of the space I was in made a point of coming across the station to tip me so I must be clearly heard over there.

Slowly my drum hand is coming back. I don’t plan on taking a drum with me to the station for a while yet, but I can work out beats and teach them to my partner, who is learning to play with me. I should be able to record again, and get everything in my head onto the hard drive. The album is back in the realm of possibility. There are definitely things I’ll never do again, but thankfully playing the bodhran is not yet one of them.

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