Sunday, August 7, 2016

Weekend blogging -- Moondog

I know you know this -- I know everyone knows this -- but it's still worth taking a moment now and then to try to absorb the accessibility of music in the 21st Century. With only a tiny number of exceptions, any piece of music you can name or just describe is a few keystrokes away.

I've been trying to take advantage of this remarkable opportunity to explore everything from punk to funk, rockabilly to avant-garde. When I mentioned that last one to a musically literate friend, he suggested two influential but highly listenable composers, Harry Partch and the unbelievably colorful Moondog.

Louis Thomas Hardin (May 26, 1916 – September 8, 1999), better known as Moondog, was an American composer, musician, poet and inventor of several musical instruments. He was blind from the age of 16. In New York from the late 1940s until he left in 1972, he could often be found on 6th Avenue between 52nd and 55th Street wearing a cloak and Viking-style helmet, sometimes busking or selling music, but often just standing silent and still.

He was widely recognized as "the Viking of 6th Avenue" by thousands of passersby and residents who weren't aware of his musical career


The music of Moondog of the 1940s and 50s is said to have been a strong influence on many early minimalist composers. Philip Glass has written that he and Steve Reich took Moondog's work "very seriously and understood and appreciated it much more than what we were exposed to at Juilliard."

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