Noise pollution

Tunes like the Londonderry Air or Simon&Garfunkel numbers may be inoffensive enough at first hearing.  Even enjoyable in a sufficiently fine rendition.  But when they’re muzaked to buggery and repeated hour after hour it becomes torture.

The amplified buskers appeared in town yesterday, inflicting exactly that on a wide area.  As a consequence the day was a write-off, and I’m attempting to catch up on my work today instead.  Worse, unlike a predictable nuisance like the yobs club it’s not something I can plan for ahead of time (for yesterday evening I had a ticket to see our local musical society’s production of Oliver, timed for Friday evening precisely because that’s always a good time to be out of the house).

About lunchtime I finally snapped and called Environmental Health.  They told me they’d had a word with this busker last time he was in town, but weren’t going to take any more action.  Also said that they’d had trouble talking to the offensive busker, because he didn’t seem to speak English!

For my part, I’m happy to see an honest busker down in town, but when they use electronic amplification to inflict themselves on a wide area it crosses beyond the boundary of acceptability.  Would it be too much to have and enforce a no-amplification rule?  It would have the side-effect of helping select for those buskers with at least sufficient talent to work without electronic aids: not a high bar, but much better than nothing!

Is there anything I as an individual can do when TPTB say too much work?

Posted on October 29, 2011, in noise, rants, tavistock, west devon. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. No, it wouldn’t be hard to have a no-amplification rule, and there’s no earthly reason why your local authorities can’t apply such as a by-law. I suggest you start petitioning them. The simplest and easiest to enforce would be “no electronic amplification at all”. You could also apply decibel or power limits.

    Another possibility is a rule specifying that buskers should not spend more than 1 hour in a given spot, and must then move on to somewhere at least 200 meters away. (Vary numbers to suit local conditions, obviously.)

    As for “he doesn’t speak English”, that’s kinda pathetic. All they have to do is unplug his amp, and if he doesn’t get the message, confiscate the damn’ thing.

  2. As for enforcement – I’m no lawyer, but you could talk to one and see if it’d be possible to get an injunction requiring TPTB to do their jobs in the event of this particular nuisance.

    This might work better in conjunction with the “get by-law” idea; both initiatives would provide ammunition for each other.

  3. Went on my usual Saturday shopping trip this morning…first call was the farmers’ market. Nearby was a busker playing an unamplified celtic harp rather nicely. My friend Jane, who has a stand on the market, remarked what a pleasant change it was. Usually they are afflicted by a guy with a guitar who manages to deliver the songs of Bob Dylan even more out of tune than the great Robert Zimmerman himself.

    Then I turned the corner into Duke Street and there were your “friends” setting up their gear for another day of amplified family favourites…fortunately I was out of town before they started up.

  4. Yeah. A bit later than that I went the long way to Morrisons, over both the Viaduct and Whitchurch Down. And I hadn’t even planned to go food shopping that day, having been to Lidl as recently as Thursday as well as the local shops.

    Still, listened to a play on Radio 4 on the way, and much enjoyed it. Well worth catching “Bar Mitzvah Boy” on Iplayer if you missed it.

  5. Meant to add: I intend now to see if I can contact USDAW (shop workers union) who have been reported as fighting this battle on behalf of their members subjected to shop muzak. If they’ve had any successes, it might provide a weapon to beat Environmental Health over the head with.

  6. Hi,
    Nicely written blog,
    I thought I’d be contrarian and leave an alternative point of view. I do so as a professional musician and well-known street performer. I also have to confess that I use an AER acoustic amplifier. I do this because I play finger style and it gives my music a lift, it also saves my voice from wear and tear. Whilst I respect the comments made about amps, I find the all-or-nothing thinking around this issue a bit wearisome. Surely what is coming out of the amp has to be taken into consideration? And I find it odd to say that using electronic aids is a substitute for talent. This is clear nonsense, you can be crap and acoustic or excellent and amplified or vice versa. The streets are full of noise during day time hours…this is part of city life. I agree that music in the street should be played with consideration for other people, but not if that means not playing at all or playing so quietly you can be heard by one man and his dog! I’m sorry, but I’ve noticed that people fixate on amps…I think it’s a bit unfair!

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