Underground Harmonies: Music and Politics in the Subways of New York

By Susie J. Tanenbaum | Go to book overview

3
The Partners: Subway Musicians and Their Audiences

One of the most salient features of local music making scenes is the integral role of the nodding, clapping, singing, dancing, even instrument-playing audience. Subway music is no exception. It is a participatory phenomenon, an exchange between musicians and riders -- "partners" in subway music scenes.

In this chapter I profile the main participants. I investigate how musicians use and negotiate subway space with one another and with riders, what motivates them to stake out a presence in such a hostile environment, and how they feel about being unconventional community artists. I also examine the varied reactions of riders to the music, focusing on what it means to a number of them to be exposed to and engaged in such an unconventional community art.


Musicians

"Other than the love of freedom," writes Patricia Campbell,

there are no common characteristics of personality, background, or life-style that describe the average street performer. . . . Some have grown up in the life as waifs surviving by their talents. Others have chosen to drop into it from flourishing careers in law or medicine or teaching. Still others are actors and musicians waiting for the big

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Underground Harmonies: Music and Politics in the Subways of New York
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction - Venturing Down 1
  • Part 1 - Making Music Underground 9
  • 1 - Setting Up 11
  • 2 - The Beat Goes On: History 27
  • 3 - The Partners: Subway Musicians and Their Audiences 48
  • 4 - Boundaries and Bridges: Relationships in Public Space 97
  • Part II - Seeking Harmony Kunderground 123
  • 5 - Music under New York: Official Sponsorship 125
  • 6 - Sounds and Silence: Regulating Subway Music 148
  • 7 - Walking the Beat: Transit Police 170
  • 8 - Music on the Job: Subway Workers 185
  • 9 - Prospects for Change 209
  • Appendix 1 - Subway Homelessness 227
  • Appendix 2 - New York Street Music 234
  • Notes 241
  • Bibliography 255
  • Index 263
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