Jonathan Badger’s lives at the intersection of music and philosophy and he crafts his epic and emotional instrumental guitar work around that intersection. Despite being mostly based around guitar, Badger’s technical expertise and ability to manipulate guitar sounds makes the sonic palette of his music much broader than most three or four-piece bands. His music is often dreamy and spacious but is far too busy and interesting to be called “ambient;” the deep, resonant mood of a Jonathan Badger song will define a scene in licensed media and its experimental style set your project apart from the rest.
Badger began playing guitar at age five and was trained formally in classical guitar from ages 11-18. While attending college at the University of South Carolina, he studied music theory and composition and also arranged and composed music for theater and dance. He was commissioned during this period to write a ballet for the Several Dancers Core in Atlanta and to compose an opera for Emerson College in Boston.
After getting his BS from the University of South Carolina, he began to study philosophy and earned a PhD in political philosophy from Fordham University, writing a dissertation on Nietzsche’s interpretation of Plato. He returned to his interest in music at this time in the context of his academic pursuits, doing coursework at Duke University and eventually earning a multidisciplinary master’s degree from North Carolina State University, for which he composed a suite of pieces setting texts from the philosophical canon (including works from Kant, Nietzsche, and the book of Job) to music.
Badger began teaching music and philosophy at St. John’s College in Annapolis in 2002. He also began studying with Guitar Craft, a school established by Robert Fripp of King Crimson dedicated to specialized guitar work and spiritual development. Near the end of this period, he began performing and recording solo guitar music. His first album Metasonic was released in 2006 through his own production company called High Horse, and he continued touring for that album along the east coast while also developing new music and a unique, musicalized video production system to accompany his live music. His second album, Unsung Stories from Lily’s Days as a Solar Astronaut, was released by MT6 Records in 2010, and he also had some of his performances professionally recorded and released as live albums.
In 2012 he released a book on philosophy and tragic poetry. As is his style, he incorporated some of the ideas discussed in that book into the creation of his album Verse, released in September 2014 on Cuneiform Records. In the words of the Baltimore City Paper, "This melancholic, mosaic record . . . shuffles nimbly between extremes of darkness and light the way an Olympic figure skater transitions from twirls and spins to Lutzes and Axles, a suite of fluid, involving instrumentals that draws from disparate genres to arrive at a sort of post-ambient survey course."