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I'm just copying my father

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As with most cities, London has its share of musicians performing on the street. Although I’ve only been here a few days and in a small portion of the city, I’ve noticed two things about the street music that I don’t like.

The first, and pettiest, of these is that I haven’t seen or heard any bagpipes. Maybe I’m just conditioned from growing up in Grinnell, where our local bagpipe troupe practices with some regularity, but it’s shocking to me that a small Iowa town is more bagpipe-centric than London.

Second, almost all of the musicians I’ve seen have been using amplifiers. It’s not that I’m an audio purist, who has a problem with the idea of amplifying music. My problem is mostly just the fact that it reduces the number of musicians who can play in an area. When musicians are playing acoustic instruments 1, the sound is easily overwhelmed if you’re more than a few score feet away. In places like New Orleans, there’s a different musician at almost every intersection, if not also one in the middle of the block. In London, however, the sounds are amplified, which means that the entirety of King’s Cross Station only seems to have room for one person.

With that said, I still love the fact that there are people who are making music near where I am. It’s great, and so far they’ve all been incredibly talented.

Edit 1 September: Today I saw bagpipers. It looks like there is a rotating group who stands between the underground station near Parliament and Parliament.


  1. With the slight exception of bagpipes