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August 14, 2011


Street Entertainment in the Beaubourg

by soundlandscapes

IT’S AUGUST AND Paris is much less busy than usual but, whilst the locals may be away on their summer holidays, there’s no shortage of tourists in town. On Saturday the Beaubourg, the area close to Les Halles, rue Montorgueil and the Marais, with the Centre Georges Pompidou at its heart, was awash with visitors.

The area behind the Pompidou Centre is a magnet for the crowds who come to watch the street entertainers perform. Their talents range from the very professional to the utterly bizarre.  In the former category was this superb mime artist and children’s entertainer who had both children and adults enthralled.

Entertaining the Crowd:

In the bizarre category was this man whose performance involved eating razor blades, burning cigarettes and matches. I found it rather gruesome but he too had attracted a large crowd.

Slightly away from the crowds I found this man sitting on a stool looking perfectly content playing his Chinese violin.

The Chinese violin or, to give it its proper name, the Erhu, is a Chinese two-stringed instrument whose roots go back to the Tang dynasty (618-907). It’s one of the huqin family of traditional bowed string instruments used by various ethnic groups of China.

The Sound of the Erhu in the Beaubourg:

A very versatile instrument, the erhu is used in both traditional and contemporary music either as a solo instrument or as part of an orchestra.

The sound of this Chinese violin in the Beaubourg was a great contrast to the laughter generated by the children’s entertainer and the grotesque eating habits of the man with the razor blades and burning cigarettes. But, it’s all part of the rich tapestry that is Paris.

To hear a stunning performance of the erhu in concert click here.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aug 14 2011

    Interesting post, Paris is a very diverse city. Thanks for sparing us from the sound of crunching razor blades though!

    • Aug 14 2011

      Thanks Roger. I did actually record him but, in the interests of good taste, I didn’t include include his sounds in this piece. Self-censorship I think it’s called.

      • Aug 14 2011

        Too bad! You’re teasing us!

      • Aug 14 2011

        Sometimes, what you leave out is as important as what you put in. It really wasn’t very pleasant.

  2. Aug 14 2011

    Waves of laughter – it sounds so airy in this recording, thank you Des. Did you use any windscreens on that day?

    • Aug 14 2011

      Thanks Vladimir. No windscreens. I was in amongst the people is a sheltered spot and there was only a light breeze so it wasn’t a problem.


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