“Music…soothes the savage beast.” At least that is what we are told in The Mourning Bride. Hans Christian Anderson once alluded that “to travel is to live.” So it makes sense that combining the two would accentuate your vacation and the memories you gain from them. There are those instances to involve music with your travels. For some, it may verily be the point of traveling. Maybe you’re favoring an EDM festival in Belgium. Or perhaps an adventure to Inti Raymi, an ancient Sun Festival held at the sacred Incan grounds of Peru was in your plans.

Those two examples will be their own articles in the near future.

While I love traveling to festivals, there is some mystic feeling, something undefinable about street musicians.  While you’re on your way through a city, hitting the subway, or walking at a tourist destination, they’re there. Adding to the experience. Captivating your senses to the reality around you. Heck, they might even make you think a little. Even if the style of music is out of place from the city it belies itself in, there is no denying the experience of incidental music. That’s what I would like to call it.

While we were traveling in Madrid, coming all the way from DC (and if you’re from DC you’ll understand) I came to terms that the culture of a city can sometimes be explained so ethnically in the music that the artist plays to the public ear. Here in this video, a Spaniard bellows passionately through a character that I instantly felt the need to understand.

It heightened the experience, as we walked around the plaza. Her and other musicians in the area, were showing us what they got.  They were showing us what Spain has. I felt it was an impenetrable force, like a stone sitting in water for hundreds of years, never changing, but staying solid through the dynamics of society.

And then there was this guy.

I call him an educator. He made me learn and more importantly he made me want to learn. “What’s this thing he’s playing? What nation or society did this instrument originate from?” Even though it was just for a few seconds, because we were in a rush to catch the subway for our next attraction, I never forgot the experience. The ambiance of sound taught me that there is indeed another angle to traveling, I looked up the instrument online, read about it, learned about it, all because of this educator. The melody was a moment of peace between my travels. It made where we were going in a rush seem…arbitrary.

Musicians in the subways of New York City always had their corner of notoriety. Some have been on television shows and movies, some on the news during a holiday. This man, who I eventually learned and am not surprised about, has his own website, along with other people who have filmed him and put him on Youtube.

I was amazed to hear the music, the speed, the passion and to figure out again what instrument is this that he’s charming us with. Out of all the musicians we saw down there, he was racking up the most money per minute. And it was because of the experience; because of the culture. It permeated through the cracks of New York, to reach the regular city zens and the travelers, finding its way to touch the ears of those people, who subconsciously all come together for a moment to appreciate the fact that music: It is all around you.