Album:America - The Goat Song

Wisconsin / Sept. 21, 2012 / by Chris

You don't hear it on the radio, but there's a lot of music out there that is based on systems totally unlike the music we are used to hearing in the US. For example, we have come to expect notes tuned so an octave (the distance between two notes of the same name, or more accurately notes with a 2:1 frequency ratio) is divided into 12 equal parts - basically, the keys you see on a piano. But this is far from the only way to divide notes - in this song, I use just one of them, in which the octave is divided into 24 equal parts.

There are also different ways to organize music. For example, most music on the radio is organized so that it makes sense in terms of chords. But with double the notes, I knew I wasn't going to be able to work in terms of chords, at least not chords as I'm used to. This piece combines a little bit of the organization of the Indonesian Gamelan with Arnold Schoenberg's tonal matrix that he used to create music without a key or tonal structure. I'll leave it to Wikipedia to explain those if you want more information (though it continually shocks me, I know the general populace doesn't find music theory textbooks all that interesting). But I hope you enjoy this foray outside of most people's musical comfort zones.

As for the title - I always struggle naming music like this, and Amy played with two goats while I was writing this. The goats are Peanut and Butter from Freedom Farm, which will be featured in our upcoming story "Heroes on Horseback." They were thoroughly adorable, and I knew they were going to star in this week's Album:America video, so they got the song named after them as well.