Yesterday saw over one thousand concerts in the greater New York area, organized under the umbrella of Make Music NY, a rambling participatory music festival that spills over into this weekend. The sheer number of concerts means it’s more than any one news organization could ever hope to cover (and, in fact, interest in MMNY was so great that their website crashed yesterday due to too many visitors), but we did our best. We sent correspondents to four single-instrument “Mass Appeal” events, where musicians of any level could be involved in a group performance. Below the cut, we chat with players of the guitar, drums, bagpipes (complete with a dude in a kilt!) and the ukulele–the event for which was held in Williamsburg, natch.
Ukuleles in McCarren Park
Name: Rick Bruner
Occupation: Market research
What are New York ukulele players like?
“A lot of us know each other here. It’s a small community. We’re an unpretentious group as far as musicians go.”
How do you choose what songs to play?
“The mark of a great song is if it can be covered on a ukulele.”
Percussion in Soho Square
Name: Mika Godbole
Occupation: Musician (percussionist)
Is it hard to keep time in the experimental piece you’re playing today, Frederic Rzewski’s “Les Moutons de Panurge”?
“It looks easy, but it’s harder than you think. You really have to concentrate, and when you’re in the moment, you’re like, ‘Oh my god. Oh my god.’ The instructions are that if you get lost to stay lost. So you hear people zooming by you, and you’re like, ‘Wait I’m not with them, but I’m with them. But wait. Wait. No!’ You’re trying to catch up, but you can’t. So it’s this really cool experience. It’s my first time. So I guess I’m like a ‘Mouton’ virgin.”
Guitars in Union Square
Name: Damon Shelton
Occupation: Audio engineer; has been playing guitar for almost three years
How do you feel when you play guitar?
“Playing guitar is relaxing. I mean, it’s time consuming, but in a good way. It’s mainly relaxing. As you can see, music is the universal language. Look at all of the different people here. You don’t even have to speak English to enjoy it.”
Guitars in Union Square
Name: Irina Hernandez
Occupation: Student; guitar player in a band called Silentium (as of four days ago!)
Why did you choose to pick up the guitar?
“I love everything about guitar, especially the creativity you can exude. I wanna be the next Jason Becker [a metal guitarist], but more than that I just want everyone to play music. It brings a feeling in you that you can’t feel anywhere else.”
Bagpipes in Herald Square
Name: Don Ross
Affiliation: Performs with his group, the New York Scottish, and has been playing the bagpipes for 20 years
What’s it like to be in a bagpipe band?
“It’s fun. We have a variety of Scottish and Irish tunes and a few other kinds of tunes.”
How are you coping with this weather?
“I’m just letting the breeze blow up my kilt.”