Monday, 15 March 2010

Music, underground, continued.

I've just realised I entirely missed the point of my last post.

What I meant to write was a systematic analysis of the economic interest behind accordion-playing on the metro, given that the accordion player in question is generally greeted only by dismayed faces and desperate, vain door-banging on the part of anguished commuters trying to escape the cacophony.

Surely the persistence of accordionists on the underground rails of Brussels points to an underlying demand for accordion music? If so, who are these lovers of squeezy, wheezy folk music? Just who is paying the piper? I have never in my whole entire six months (ahem, I mean two-and-a-half weeks Mr Belgian VAT Man) in Brussels seen anyone give them money. Not even to stop. Perhaps there is some fabulously wealthy Euro-millionaire who regularly buys peace and quiet on the way home with a fat euro-cheque, but I very much doubt it (surely these people would have drivers?).

And if nobody is paying them, then why continue? Is it a highly-sophisticated distraction technique, intended to leave the poor commuter hunched in pain while the accordionist's child accomplice pinches their wallet? Or is there some other profit of which I am unaware?

I would be very interested to know who or what creates a demand for such a product in such a location.

Is it you?


Aidan said...

This is an instance of a well-known business model:

Step 1: Play accordion.
Step 2: ???????
Step 3: Profit.

pinolona said...

That must be where I've been going wrong all these years.

Korie said...

When I had my wallet pinched there was one of those guys that gets on and starts telling a sob story or something along those lines really loud before trying to collect money from people. Bu tthe story is always in Frnech so I have no clue what they say.

I trust no one on the Brussels Metro.

Anonymous said...

I have never liked the sound of the accordian, and I apologize in advance to anyone that I am offending by saying this. If I had to listen to it every day ... let's not go there. I have seen an accordian convention in Las Vegas on TV before and I sat through that but only because it was part of one of my favorite shows: Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. The accordian must be an acquired taste. There's no other explanation. Or excuse.

Laura said...

I did see some people give money once, but only because they'd been dancing and singing along.

I also hate the guys telling their sob stories. Apparently they're not that easy to understand, even if you speak French.

Anonymous said...

Pino! how are you over there? you back in the Oaks any time soon? What's the gossip in Bruxelles? Sounds like the Belgians are doing their best to be annoying at the moment!

Not much new here. Me, Chris, Helen, Sean and Max are doing the half marathon this Sunday... I may not make it back from Reading alive :)

Love from London!

Maria xxx

Michael Dembinski said...

If street music is genuinely good, I will pay, and big time. Warsaw's Orkiestra z Chmielnej play pre-war hits and stirring patriotic tunes like my dad would have done seven decades ago. Whenever I catch them in the underground passage by the Rotunda, I stop to listen, often finding myself moved to tears. They guys get a banknote from me and I'll buy any CD of theirs that my parents don't yet have.

I delight in good street music and support it generously. But bums wheezing in and out of harmonicas or buskers doing Streets of London are lucky to avoid catching a reflex reaction from my right foot.

pinolona said...

Michael, I have no objection at all to street music. Often it is very, very good (try getting the Tube to a Prom concert in London in the summer and listen to the music students while you walk along the underpass to the Albert Hall). What I object to is being forced to listen to bad accordion music while stuck in an enclosed space.

It is my prerogative to stop and listen to street music if I like it and want to hear more. However, I genuinely believe that accordionists who play in tiny little metro carriages are committing an infringement against the human rights of the other people on the train, who simply want to travel in peace. It is a noise nuisance, pure and simple.

Unknown said...

As an accordion player myself (I didn't bring my accordion to Brussels, don't worry), I had often thought about playing in a metro station or two when I was living in Washington, DC. Basically, I didn't like the city and I wanted everyone else to feel like crap too.

I can't say it's the same for all the players in Brussels, but that would be my personal reason for investing in an accordion and playing here.

pinolona said...

Ah, now it's all starting to make some sense... (maybe I should borrow one to play in the foyer of the Commune)