Sounds of Buskerville

Sounds of Buskerville

From MRT stations and underground tunnels to breezy waterfronts and busy road junctions, the streets are alive with the sound of music - music by buskers, to be exact.

Their performances range from playing traditional instruments such as the erhu to cosy, soulful numbers that will not be out of place in a jazz bar.

Some of them have grown so popular they draw regular crowds. Younger buskers, in particular, are savvy in nurturing a fanbase, setting up Facebook pages to publicise their performances and uploading their videos on YouTube.

According to the National Arts Council (NAC), the number of under-30 buskers has almost doubled since last year.

In Singapore, buskers are required by law to apply for a letter of endorsement from NAC.

There are about 200 buskers here who sing, play music, dance or practise a craft such as drawing and painting.

Five years ago, there was half that number of buskers.

An NAC spokesman says "generally, people are more receptive and appreciative of busking in Singapore".

Take for example civil servant Rohana Akhbar, 27, who gladly parted with $5 the first time she heard father-son duo Mashruddin Saharuddin, 62, and Nizaruddin Mashruddin, 25, performing outside Tampines MRT station.

"Now I donate $2 each time I stop to catch a couple of songs. They really do make good music."

Aspiring street performers have to go through auditions, which are held four times a year.

Since 2013, they must also attend a pre-audition workshop, which familiarises them with the busking scheme.

Successful applicants are issued letters of endorsement, which are valid for one year.

There are about 80 to 100 designated busking locations in Singapore.

These include the pedestrian mall outside Ion Orchard, Haji Lane and East Coast Park.

SundayLife! talks to four savvy buskers who have made their mark here.

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