New York Times, 1953 May 31
Blind New York Street Musician Heard In Sampling of Owe Inventions
Moondog, a blind street musician who plays in doorways on Sixth Avenue, has just recorded eight of the odd, exotic-sounding tunes which make up his repertoire on a record called Moondog on the Streets of New York (Mars, 45 rpm. Extended Play disk).
Moondog in person is as bizarre as the music he plays. He wears a nondescript brown robe and sandals, a flowing beard and uncut hair in two braids over his shoulders. When performing he places his instruments on the sidewalk and squats before them like a street musician in some Oriental bazaar.
Moondog tells questioners he comes from "Sasnak", which is Kansas spelled backward. His real name is Louis Thomas Hardin.
He studied harmony and counterpoint at a music school for the blind and now in his spare time works at large-scale orchestra compositions. He dictates them note by note to his Japanese wife, Mary Suzuko Whiteing Hardin, and hopes sometimes to hear them performed.
Pieces heard on the Mars record are performed by Moondog himself on instruments some of which are of his own devising. Moondog plays the "uni", a seven-stringed zither; the "utsu", a rudimentary keyboard instrument tuned to the pentatonic scale G-A-B-D-E (the same intervals as the black keys on the piano); the "tuji", an instrument with nine tuned wooden pegs; the "oo", a triangular 25-stringed harp, and the single-stringed, bowed instrument of Japan, the samisen.
On these instruments Moondog makes music which has odd, unexpected sonorities and extremely complex rhythmic patterns. He is fond of 5/4 rhythm in "snaketime", a peculiar slithering movement hard to describe and impossible to write down in musical notation.
Moondog employs "snaketime" in such compositions as his large work for voices, "The Cosmicon." In these more formal pieces the indication is "Tempo di serpente".
The Moondog record is unique, individualistic music, neither primitive nor extremely sophisticated, yet a little of both. The disk was recorded by Tony Schwartz, a man with an insatiable curiosity about the odd sounds to be heard in a great city.