Travel Shot: The wandering pianist

The candidness of street photography is something that I admire and appreciate. But it is also something that I feel inhibited to try it out myself as I feel very self-conscious about taking such candid shots. That is perhaps one of the reasons why you will rarely find people in my photographs.

But sometimes, people photo-ops are so compelling that my camera is out and the picture taken in no time. Like this wandering pianist I came across in London.

I saw this group when I crossed the Millennium Bridge from the Tate Modern side to St.Paul’s Cathedral. It was a sight that stopped me in my tracks, and had me pulling out my camera at the same time. Though I had seen wandering musicians of all sorts—violinists, flautists, cellists, oboists, saxophonists, trumpeters—before, this was the first time I had seen a wandering pianist. The rather battered piano was no barrier to the lovely music being played, or the camaraderie between this little group. I listened to the pianist for a little while, before moving on.

Though I wanted to go and speak to them, I didn’t do it and I’m not sure why. Today, as I type out this post, I do wonder who the wandering pianist was and who his companions were. Why they were at that particular place? And how did they wheel the piano around without the instrument suffering damage? Were they students conducting an experiment or were they students out to make some pocket-money?

Why didn’t I ask these questions then, I wonder…

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43 thoughts on “Travel Shot: The wandering pianist

    • Yes they do. I saw them even in sterile Switzerland :-) In London, I used to like a Peruvian group who used to play traditional instruments every evening on Oxford street. They were amazing.

  1. Sudhagee, that was an epic moment to click and you do seem to have gotten the best out of it. I don’t know how it’d have been if you had stayed to find out who and why they were playing that lovely music, but in its present state, the candid story has left me yearning to know more about the street pianist and his group, quite like you.

  2. There were a couple of street musicians in Khan Market, Delhi. Though their music is good, they seemed self-conscious to the point of embarassment- almost as if they want to be recognized by people closed to them

    • Thanks, Bikram. Since this is a wandering piano and pianist pair, you may not find them here, but maybe at some other place. But where ever you meet the, do let me know. :-)

  3. Mmm! You have set me wondering as well about how the piano wanders and why the musicians chose the piano to wander with. Now, I wish you had asked those questions:)

  4. Ahh, street artists. In the city I live in, they make the seedy downtown area a little more bearable. During the holidays, we actually have well known artists perform at a prominent city square and some upscale stores also have live artists perform to enhance the shopping experience. Music, I think, makes the ordinary, extraordinary and the regular, sublime.

    • “Music, I think, makes the ordinary, extraordinary and the regular, sublime.” How beautifully you have explained music and the emotions that come with it. Wah Meera wah !

  5. That is the beauty of European cities that street performers are visible at every important junction for the onlookers and passersby to appreciate the huge talent:)

    • Your observation is bang on, Rahul. The standard of street performers in Europe is very good and they are also respected a lot. But the same is not the case in India. Not only are street performers not respected or encouraged, they are often equated with beggars. Don’t you think so?

  6. :-) I wish you’d asked those questions too. But I would’ve hesitated to approach the group as well.

    On another note: I’ve realised why I like reading your posts and your responses to comments by visitors to your blog – they’re always an invitation to engage, to share and to open up some realm of experience or thought that may be of interest.

    All this in a style that is never dramatic but still carries a sense of the wonder of things.

    There’s much to learn from you!

    • Havovi, thank you so much. Your words humble me. Thank you so much, Havovi. The purpose of writing is to communicate and in the hope that it will be read. Any comments, discussion and feedback received is a very welcome bonus. Creativity comes from within, but to sustain it, feedback is essential. I am always spurred to write some more. And write what I like, what catches my eye or captures my imagination. :-D

  7. This is so intriguing, Sudha. Why didn’t you ask them then? Even I wonder…I also wonder if they are still there, making music. What if they find themselves here on your blog and smile at the appreciation? :)

    • I wish I knew, why I didn’t ask them. Maybe my innate shyness prevented me from asking them? Maybe they looked so comfortable together that any intrusion of their was unthinkable. Bikram has said that he will check if they are still there and let me know. Lets see :-D

  8. I can do without information about the artist but would love to know how they wheeled the piano without any damage to the instrument! I will look out for them too when I go to London. But I am not sure how much roaming I will be doing :)

      • Well, actually each question will kind of lead to one another, don’t you think so. I just wish I had asked a question, some question. If you do see them give them my regards and ask your questions ! :-)

  9. most of the time, we badly want to know something but we cannot ask those questions for no reason. but the set up looks cool. it must be an amazing place to sit and play piano.

    i have changed my account to new blog, now the link will take you straight to my new blog :D

    • I don’t know about amazing, but the location is very apt – on a bridge that connects two of London’s most famous landmarks. I am quite curious by nature and also shy. So sometimes the curious side wins and sometimes the shy side wins. And I guess, the shy side won that day :-D

  10. Hi Nice pic and nice post. I guess its good you did not find out their story. Becoz of which so many stories of imagination are getting weaved in each of your reader’s minds. :)

  11. Wow! this is truly unique. I never see a person playing his piano outside a building or a park. I usually see people playing w/ their guitar. This is truly amazing.

    • Welcome here, Gillian, and thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. It is the uniqueness of this situation that made me stop and capture this moment.

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