January 29th, 2011 / 9:44 am
Film & Music

If your instrument does not exist yet you build it. Then you fuck around.

This is Moondog with his Trimba, which he built himself. Moondog is a blind homeless man on the streets of New York City. It is 1953 (I think) and he dresses like a viking because vikings are rad.

“I am essentially not an instrument builder, but a composer. I am a philosophic music man who long ago was seduced into musical carpentry. As a composer and a musical philosopher I make my living by selling records of my music. I am both the manufacturer and the retailer. And I distribute the records very largely by mail.” — Harry Partch, 1958

Harry Partch's Spoils of War (1955)

Moondog’s “Wind River Powwow” once made me cry because I don’t know why.
It has no words. It was pretty weird. Werd. Earlier today I thought, wouldn’t it be
funny┬áif cops gave you a ticket for a “weird turn.” The answer of course is no.

If you can’t cry & don’t know why
try watching it with your visualizer
& think around the day your dog died.

Don’t worry though. This cat is okay.

JK, these cats are all dead.

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  1. M. Kitchell

      this is good
      also good is harry partch’s ‘delusions of the fury’
      which is entirely on youtube, and is probably the only thing this long that i have ever watched on youtube in its entirety

      part 1:

  2. Christopher Higgs

      Moondog, Moondog, yes.

  3. wrongtable

      Right on Reynard. I’ve haven’t thought about these guys for a decade. But this article was more than a reintroduction. It conveyed a mood of creative isolation.

  4. deadgod

      “To build” is always ‘to build around‘ and ‘to build towards‘.

      Engineering becomes (and discloses) ‘identity’: how are “problems” separated from “goals”?

  5. mimi

      I had never heard of Moondog.
      And listening to “Wind River Powwow” makes me thankful my ears work.
      Thanks for this, Reynard.

  6. mimi

      Also just made the link in my slow brain that the “Pastoral” in Christopher Higgs post yesterday was Moondog too, Duh, so thanks also to Professor Higgs.
      It’s posts like these that bring me to HG every day!

  7. reynard

      woah, i hadn’t had time to read that one yet, that’s tight

  8. reynard

      thanks! i think their problems were the same as the writer’s today, finding a new way to say something ancient; i would say that, at best, music is the voice of gawd and literature is an EKG

  9. reynard

      i don’t think it’s necessary to have goals, problems seem to be enough

  10. deadgod

      Not sure what you mean by “necessary”. I think you’ve got a too-ultimate idea from the word “goal”. What kind of “building” is done without ‘direction’, without any reason at all? – I don’t mean in a groovy ‘don’t-think-just-be’ way; I mean: when does one gesture – and it’s not a mindless reflex – and there’s no “goal”?

      Let me put it this way: a “problem” is no problem at all if there’s no interest in solution, relief, endurance, or some other such . . . “goal”. The terms imply each other – my question is: what is structured, or what structure is disclosed, by one’s discernment between them?

  11. reynard

      aptly was just watching death in venice and this:

      Gustav von Aschenbach: You know sometimes I think that artists are rather like hunters aiming in the dark. They don’t know what their target is, and they don’t know if they’ve hit it. But you can’t expect life to illuminate the target and steady your aim. The creation of beauty and purity is a spiritual act.

      Alfred: Non Gustav, no. Beauty belongs to the senses. Only to the senses.