Song of the Badger

Song Of The Badger was written specifically for the contemporary music ensemble, Zeitgeist. However, the recording on this website is a studio realization that did not involve any of the members of Zeitgeist. I also added a few instruments and made some other changes to the piece in the process of creating the recording. It should be noted that Song of the Badger is not a song and it has nothing whatsoever to do with badgers. It did however, represent a substantially new musical direction for me at the time, (or perhaps a return to my self-taught musical roots). In a way, it reminds me of Toaster Ovens On Parade, which was the first piece of chamber music I wrote for my first composition teacher at the University of Minnesota. That's because I was writing by ear back then before I had a lot of formal compositional training.

This piece represents a point in my compositional life, when I started moving away from conceptual or strictly formalistic writing, to a much more through-composed style. It was something that at the time, tied in very naturally with one of my areas of intellectual inquiry, which had to do with our rapidly evolving culture-based perceptions of what constitutes aesthetically sound musical constructs. What "sounds good" to us has been changing at a faster and faster rate, just as other aspects of our culture have undergone an increasingly rapid rate of change. Today, we can go into a record store or turn on the radio [this note is pre-internet] and listen to widely divergent musics from virtually every culture on the planet. This exposure to music outside of our Eurocentric musical traditions, combined with the broader changes and rate of change in general in our culture is having the effect of expanding our definition of what music is. At the time when I was working on this piece, I was particularly interested in our changing perceptions of phrasing and our growing acceptance of stylistic eclecticism within a single work. It used to be that we had very fixed ideas and expectations concerning phrase length and harmonic functionality within the phrase. Our ears now seem to be able to accept phrasing which is much less predictable in terms of length, and harmonic function has been largely abandoned in favor of color and a more general sense of a linear transmission of energy within the phrase.

I believe that a primary root of these changes in our perception (perhaps THE primary root) lies in our very heavy exposure to the mass media of our culture. At the time I wrote this piece, I was 35 years old, and like most people my age who grew-up in this country, I spent a substantial amount of my childhood staring at (and listening to) the television. This exposed me to a vast quantity of music which was written to support visual activity; music which was not intended to stand alone as a piece of concert music or as a song. This was incidental music, where traditional phrasing and compositional practices were often completely rejected in favor of closely following the dramatic tension and visual activity of a scene. I have received extremely heavy doses of this music throughout the span of my life and it has become part of the cultural matrix out of which my music grows. At the time when I was working on this piece, I was just beginning to realize just how significant an influence this type of music has been on my own musical sensibilities.


Marc Andersen
Mike Olson


Hand Drums and Hi Hat
Synthesizers, Samplers, Cap Gun, Radio, Cow Toys, Bird Whistle, Steel Drum with Ping Pong Balls, and probably some other stuff that I'm forgetting.

Song of the Badger is available for purchase on the System Error CD and on the Composers' Syndicate Sampler CD.