Local Heart, Global Soul

April 7, 2014

Music Pulls Young And Old Onto The Streets…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Recently during my posts on Delft I showed you a wagon-style street organ that was pulled by a horse with the best hair-do in The Netherlands.

It’s the most common sort of street organ: horse drawn, highly decorated with wooden figures and beautifully painted.

There is however another sort of street organ that is less regularly seen and that is the hand cranked one that is on a far smaller wagon.

They are privately owned, as far as I know by a few elderly gentlemen and they are just as delightful as their larger horse drawn counterparts.

I was fortunate to have my little camera with me  whilst out and about when this gentleman passed by with his, and a lady outside on the street we were in told me that she had the man’s card and that she had called him to come and play for them (for a small fee I assume). He certainly attracted plenty of people from the surrounding houses once the music started playing, young and old were enchanted. Playing his music on all the streets on the way home from his “gig” most surely earned him a few extra Euros to top up his pension.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 20, 2014

Less Haute Couture and More Haute Coiffure…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Some countries have a distinctive melody that runs through them, a certain sound that is synonymous with their history, culture and traditions.

Cities in Europe with their cobbled and often narrow streets are no different.

The music differs from country to country or even from province to province and here in The Netherlands the sound you will often hear whilst out shopping on a busy Saturday is usually that of the local barrel organ.

There are small ones, like one  elderly man that I know who has one the size of a baby’s pram, it’s basically a tall box on wheels and he winds it up and the music tinkles through the neighbourhood, bringing curious children out of the surrounding houses like ants to honey.

He’s a frail looking gentleman but always immaculately dressed, very formal and polite and when the kids cage lose change from their parents to put into the collection tin, he is always very appreciative.

More often the barrel organs are bigger, very ornate with highly decorated painted wooden figures that often make simple movements of their own as the music plays.

The organ is mounted on a wagon that is in turn pulled by a horse, and it’s not at all unusual to see one making their way down any local big city shopping street with the vendor shaking a tin that indicates that a “token” for listening to the music would be appreciated.

The tin, as far as I have experienced in the last twenty years of living here, always takes the same form, but the vendors differ: some can be rather aggressive as they shake the tin loudly under your nose and make it more difficult to pass without making a contribution.

I started out being more than a little intimidated by them, feeling  obliged to pay even if  I was short of cash or in a hurry, but I got tougher and now I weigh up the vendor and the situation and react accordingly. My attitude these days is simple: the more aggressive they are, the less willing I am to donate, if they are friendly and I’m not in a hurry, would like to take photos, or if the kids are with me and we fancy stopping and listening for a bit, then I will press coins into little palms so that they can go up to put them into the tin.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s a little known fact that The Hague has a surprising number of inner city stables: they are well hidden behind unassuming doors off both small and large streets, and there are apparently well over fifty of them.

It was therefore no surprise for me when I heard familiar music whilst walking around the inner city streets of Deft with my visiting Singaporean friend “Velvetine”.

Since we could hear them before we could see them I explained to Velvetine that it would be a new experience for her and we should make a small detour.

Around the corner of Oude Kerk (Old Church)  came the source of the music… and a horse with the best haircut  in the Netherlands.

In fact it’s fringe was waaaay better than mine… so  yes it’s possible that a horse can make you suddenly realise that you are having a bad hair day! The street area where we were was quiet and the vendor turned out to be very friendly when I asked if my overseas guest and I could please take photographs , so naturally we dallied for a a tune or two and were generous when it came to making a contribution.  We saw them again later and waved a friendly goodbye before we left,  but somehow I don”t even think the horse saw us though all that hair…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barrel_organ

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