Moondog


Moondog was the pseudonym of Louis Thomas Hardin (May 26, 1916–September 8, 1999), a blind American composer, musician, cosmologist, poet, and inventor of several musical instruments. Although these achievements would have been considered extraordinary for any blind person, Moondog further removed himself from society through his decision to make his home on the streets of New York for approximately twenty of the thirty years he spent in the city. The public began to appreciate the extent of Moondog's talents only in the final decades of Moondog's life, primarily because of his stubborn refusal to wear anything other than his own home-made clothes, all based on his own interpretation of the Norse god Thor. Indeed, he was known for much of his life as 'The Viking of 6th Avenue'.

Born in Marysville, Kansas, he started playing a set of drums that he made himself from a cardboard box at the age of five. Hardin was blinded in a farm accident at the age of 16. After learning the principles of music in several schools for blind young men across middle America, he taught himself the skills of ear training and composition. Principally self-taught, he studied with Burnet Tuthill and at the Iowa School for the Blind. He had a particular interest in Native American music.

From the late 1940s until 1974, Moondog lived as a street musician and poet in New York City, busking mostly on 53rd Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan. In addition to his music and poetry, he was also known for the distinctive Viking garb that he wore, which included a horned helmet. He partially supported himself by selling copies of his poetry and his musical philosophy. Because of his street post's proximity to the famed 52nd Street nightclub strip, he was well-known to many jazz musicians and fans.

Moondog's music took its inspiration from street sounds, such as the subway or a foghorn. It tended to be relatively simple but characterized by what he called "snaketime" and described as "a slithery rhythm, in times that are not ordinary [...] I'm not gonna die in 4/4 time"

Moondog's work was early championed by Artur Rodziński, the conductor of New York Philharmonic in the '40s. He released a number of 78s, 45s and EPs of his music in the 1950s, as well as several LPs on a number of notable jazz labels, including an unusual record of stories for children with actress Julie Andrews in 1957. For ten years no new recordings were heard from Moondog until producer James William Guercio took him into the studio to record an album for Columbia Records in 1969. The track "Stamping Ground", with its odd preamble of Moondog saying one of his epigrams, was featured on the sampler double album Fill Your Head with Rock (CBS, 1970). The melody from the track "Bird's Lament (In memory of Charlie Parker)" was later sampled by Mr. Scruff as the basis for his song "Get a Move On", which was then used in commercials for the Lincoln Navigator SUV.

A second album produced with Guercio featured one of Moondog's daughters as a vocalist and contained song compositions in canons and rounds. The album did not make as large an impression in popular music as the first had. The two CBS albums were re-released as a single CD in 1989.

In a search for new sounds, Moondog also invented several musical instruments, including a small triangular-shaped harp known as the "Oo", another which he named the "Ooo-ya-tsu", and (perhaps his most well-known) the "Trimba", a triangular percussion instrument that the composer invented in the late 40s. The original Trimba is still played today by Moondog's friend Stefan Lakatos, a Swedish percussionist, to whom Moondog also explained the methods for building such an instrument.

Moondog had an idealised view of Germany ("The Holy Land with the Holy River" — the Rhine), where he settled in 1974. A young German student named Ilona Goebel hosted him, first in Oer-Erkenschwick, and later on in Münster in Westphalia, Germany, where he spent the remainder of his life.

Moondog visited America briefly in 1989, for a tribute in which Phillip Glass asked him to conduct the Brooklyn Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, at the New Music America Festival in Brooklyn, stimulating a renewed interest in his music.

He recorded many albums, and toured both in the US and in Europe — France, Germany and Sweden.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Moondog".



Moondog links


Buy Moondog CDs at Amazon.com
Moondog @ Psychevanhetvolk.com
Moondog Interview
The Life and Works of Moondog
Moondog @ Neurodiversity.com
Moondog @ Moorsmagazine.com [Dutch Language]

Bookmark

Moondog - Moondog 2

Moondog - Moondog

Moondog - On The Streets Of New York

Moondog - More Moondog

Moondog - Moondog And His Friends

Moondog - Improvisations At A Jazz Concert