Author Topic: Moondog  (Read 3201 times)

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Offline Ugh!

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Moondog
« on: September 23, 2008, 11:36:10 PM »


Well it's about time we discussed the works of Louis Thomas Hardin, the blind viking on 6th avenue, better known as Moondog, street musician and poet. But his work was also embraced by the classical music and jazz community, and have widely been performed and recorded. Rodzinsky became one of his friends during the 40's, Reich and Glass used to play with him, Dizzy Gillespie and other jazz musicians used to come over from the clubs and talk to him and listen to his street playing, and at one point Stravinsky defended him in court.

What I find interesting about him as a person is that he liked to challenge societal rules: "You have a freedom in America as long as you don't exercise it"; dressing in viking garb, constructing his own instruments, sleeping in the street, etc. But although he often incorporates North-American indian rythm figures in his compositions, he was a fanatical purist when it came to music: "I'm a rebel, but I'm rebelling against the rebels. By the rebels I mean the atonalists and the polytonalists. "

This is most clearly communicated in his almost fanatical purity regarding counterpoint:

"Even Benny Goodman made a lot of terrible contrapuntal mistakes because he was improvising and went his own way, and the other people were being stepped on. But you have to be a master of counterpoint to know this. Even I make mistakes; nobody makes more mistakes than I do. But I analyze every piece, every bar, every note, and any mistakes are eliminated. In a 16-part canon, you have 120 chances of making a mistake. When I analyze, I can't sit down and do it - I fall asleep. So I have to stand up and analyze. Brahms' solution was to stand up when you write. "

"There could be different motivations [for the contrapuntal mistakes in classical music]. One might he haste - didn't have time to analyze it. Or possibly they didn't care about the rules. Or they didn't know - but I can't imagine they didn't know. But even Tallis and Frescobaldi and Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, they're all full of mistakes. I have to turn the radio off - I can't stand it, what they're doing to my ears, you know? Unbelievable mistakes, what they're doing. You'd think the farther back you'd go, the better it would be, but it's not. Even back in the 14th, 15th centuries, the same mistakes. "

"Haydn taught Beethoven counterpoint but he said, "I can't teach this young man anything." Well, I don't know how he could - he must have taught him a lot of wrong moves in counterpoint, because the same mistakes are in both. "

Subotnick

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Re: Moondog
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2008, 12:25:42 AM »
Hello.

I've always been intrigued by Moondog. This little bio of yours has intrigued me further. I'm not sure where to start with him musically. Do you have any suggestions? Any links to further reading would be appreciated too!  :)

TTFN.
Me.


Offline Ugh!

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Re: Moondog
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2008, 01:34:12 AM »
Hello.

I've always been intrigued by Moondog. This little bio of yours has intrigued me further. I'm not sure where to start with him musically. Do you have any suggestions? Any links to further reading would be appreciated too!  :)

TTFN.
Me.



Reading:

http://www.moondogscorner.de/

Listening:

His output is highly diverse, ranging from the early NY period, percussive, ethnic-sounding works with field recordings from street performances, piano improvisations, jazzy tunes and orchestral works etc;



and in the later German years he experimented with sample-based keyboards (ELPMAS; sample spelled backwards) which may sound outdated now (timbre-wise) but still contain wonderful compositions, as well as some of his later overtone works

("That's my biggest project in life. Believe it or not, I've discovered that whoever created the universe, whenever, left a message in the first nine overtones or you can say that the first nine overtones are the message. I just wanted a theme for my Creation - I didn't realize that there was anything there. But I discovered in Hamburg that there's a system there. And I discovered that, by using the principle of diminution, I could develop these nine overtones, using a series of diminished sequences of overtone series, and create a pyramidal structure. And in that pyramidal structure, I realized that the secret message was that whoever created the universe is trying to tell us that He's sharing with us the secret structure of the universe. In other words, it proves the principle of contraction and expansion. Hubble was always talking about expansion, but this system in the overtones proves that you can't have one without the other. It also has a lot of other implications, like the two-directionality of time. But scientists that I've approached through the letterbox do not respond. They're either afraid to find out if it's right or wrong, or they're threatened because, if they accept this, it will overturn innumerable theories and conjectures of science.
How could you send a message that would never be destructible? Only in sound waves. Waves arc indestructible. Wherever there's a planet that has atmosphere, these overtones could be heard. Apparently, there may be even in our own galaxy some planets that may have an atmosphere, and there may be living creatures there who might be able to discover the message. If this is ever accepted, it's the biggest discovery that was ever made by humanity, because here's a direct message to us. - He respects our intelligence enough to think that we should share the knowledge of the inner structure of the universe. And it's there everywhere. Scientists are looking in telescopes and microscopes, and they don't realize that this is here, right here. The secret is all around us, and nobody recognizes it. ")



but also works such as the fantastic New Sounds for an Old Instrument (organ) which IMO rates among the most brilliant and meditative contrapuntal works ever written






lukeottevanger

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Re: Moondog
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2008, 01:46:37 AM »

"There could be different motivations [for the contrapuntal mistakes in classical music]. One might he haste - didn't have time to analyze it. Or possibly they didn't care about the rules. Or they didn't know - but I can't imagine they didn't know. But even Tallis and Frescobaldi and Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, they're all full of mistakes. I have to turn the radio off - I can't stand it, what they're doing to my ears, you know? Unbelievable mistakes, what they're doing. You'd think the farther back you'd go, the better it would be, but it's not. Even back in the 14th, 15th centuries, the same mistakes. "

"Haydn taught Beethoven counterpoint but he said, "I can't teach this young man anything." Well, I don't know how he could - he must have taught him a lot of wrong moves in counterpoint, because the same mistakes are in both. "

Yes, but what did he think of Taneyev?  >:D

karlhenning

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Re: Moondog
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2008, 02:12:22 AM »
His output is highly diverse, ranging from the early NY period . . . .

A woful generalization, Eugene.  Scholars observe significant distinctions among his Union Square Period, his 44th Street Between Avenue of the Americas and Broadway Period, and his especially pivotal Washington Square Arch at the Foot of Fifth Avenue Period.

More than any of these, perhaps, Varick Street was for Moondog the turning point.

Offline Ugh!

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Re: Moondog
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2008, 11:17:21 PM »
I also like the instruments that Moondog constructed himself, an interest he shared with composers such as George Edward Ives and Harry Partch (and myself)...



Offline vandermolen

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Re: Moondog
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2008, 06:35:30 AM »
I have the CD with his two albums on. A nostalgia trip for me as it takes me back to the jazz/rock days (not that Moondog really comes into either category) of c 1970.I came across him, I recall on a CBS sampler LP which was made from blue vinyl (v unusual in its day). Makes a change from Miaskovsky  ;D
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Moondog
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2017, 12:27:02 AM »
I don't always listen to his music much but when I do  :o

His work has such a strong whiff of both melancholy and nostalgia, it's powerful and ghostly to me.

This album:




Means a heck of a lot to me personally, by the end of it I feel like crying  :'(
Nice to see this thread revived after nine years. Encourages me to listen to my Moondog album again.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Moondog
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2017, 08:15:47 AM »
How could I have never heard of this composer, who I can tell is my soul brother after just five minutes of listening to New Sound for an Old Instrument?
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

millionrainbows

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Re: Moondog
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2017, 09:26:04 AM »
This disc is interesting, as it contains the remix by Mr. Scruff featuring a sample of Moondog's "Bird's Lament" used in a car commercial:



Also, if anybody remembers those not-so-sympathetic generic cartoons which appeared in the New Yorker and elsewhere, which showed a bearded guy in a robe holding a sign which read "repent" or variations on that theme..those were inspired by Moondog's street presence.

Interestingly, it was James William Guercio, who produced The Buckinghams and Chicago, who produced Moondog's first major label release on Columbia, pictured in Alien's post.

Offline Scion7

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Re: Moondog
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2017, 11:57:52 PM »
 :P

Wonder where an Admin will move this to?

 8)   :D 
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