Here are a couple of hand drummers playing djembe at Washington Square Park. The djembe is a traditional West African drum with animal hide stretched over a wooden barrel-like body. The trademark hourglass shape contributes to a deep sound when hit. It produces a variety of sounds depending on how and where on the drum head you hit it. For instance, striking it with your palm hitting the rim creates a deep bass sound, while tapping the rim with your fingertips creates a lighter, less sustained tone.
There was also a little kid who was really into the sound of the drums playing. I often see kids marveling at someone playing a drum in a park or on the street. I guess it's something in the beat that appeals to hyperactive minds of youngsters. I should know; it was seeing drummers perform on the street that inspired me to learn percussion!
This is an older photo I took at the Atlantic Antic last Sunday. It was a huge street fair on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, with vendors, food carts, and performers dotting the entire length of the street. This percussionist here in particular was really interesting. You can see the drum under his arm that he's playing, but if you look closely at the bottom of the frame, there's also pieces of a drum set. He used the foot pedal on the bass drum while he was playing the drum he was holding, providing an interesting variety of sounds.
I also found a few great places for information about street performers. The first is a little more official:
The next one is a similar project. It is a little more fleshed-out, though:
The MTA has a bit of information about performers. It's a lot more official, with auditions and licenses:
There's even a few documentaries out there, like this one:
In the next few weeks, I will be documenting some of the performers I see around New York, either through video or photos. As I am also a percussionist, I will attempt to do a little busking of my own as well. If anyone knows of any good places in Brooklyn where I can play, let me know!