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Research Fellow

Michael D. Golden

Professor of Music Composition and Theory,  Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo, USA.

Research Interests

While my formal training in music was primarily in music composition and jazz improvisation, throughout my studies in those areas I continually came back to the question of why human beings make music. My exposure (in courses in ethnomusicology) to musics from around the world led me to believe that, along with the extraordinary diversity in the ways in which people in different cultures engage in musicking, there is a deeper underlying commonality; I believe musicking is essentially connective or integrative behavior. This has led me to my current areas of research, including the relationships between musicking and ecology, neuroscience, embodied cognition, human development and evolution. Of particular relevance to the mission of MOMRI are the links between these fields and identity, and fostering empathy and social change.


Born in 1952 in New York City, USA, Dr. Golden began learning jazz piano at the Jazzmobile School.  He studied music composition and theory with Tomas Svoboda, William O. Smith, Diane Thome, William Bergsma, and Jonathan Bernard, and studied music history and ethnomusicology with Robert Trotter and Christopher Waterman. His compositions have been performed throughout the US and around the world, and include regional and national commissions and scores for film and theatre productions, along with numerous jazz works. As an educator, Prof. Golden teaches courses in World Music, Music and Ecology, Music Psychology, and Music and Peacebuilding, along with composition, improvisation, theory and computer music.

Academic Degrees

Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) in Composition, University of Washington (1992).
Master’s Degree (M.M.) in Composition, University of Oregon (1981).

Awards, Honors and Accomplishments

First Prize, Guitar Foundation of America International Composition Competition, 1996.
Meet the Composer/Commissioning Music USA Award, 1997.
Other Commissions:
• It’s a Long, Long River commissioned by the Huntington Symphony Orchestra, 1997
• Echoes in Eternal Light (a setting of Ko-jyo-no Tsuki) commissioned by the Kansai 21st
Century Symphony Orchestra, 1998.
• Suite Ceremonial commissioned by Aliso Viejo Symphony Orchestra, 2001.
• Three Friends, for chamber orchestra, computer and jazz piano, commissioned by South
Orange County Chamber Orchestra, 2003.



“Musicking as Ecological Behavior: An Integrated ‘4E’ View.” idea journal, “co-constructing body-environments” 17, no. 2 (2020): 230–247,
“Musicking as Emergent Ecological Behavior: Linking Cognition, Culture and Neuroscience.” In Parncutt, R.,& Sattmann, S. (Eds.) (2018). Proceedings of ICMPC15/ESCOM10. Graz, Austria: Centre for Systematic Musicology, University of Graz: 168-171.
“Music Emergent: Autopoiesis and Connected Worlds.” University of California eScholarship, UC Irvine: A Body of Knowledge Conference. Retrieved from
“Musicking as Education for Social and Ecological Peace: A New Synthesis.” Journal of Peace Education 13, no. 3 (September 2016): 266–82.
“On Music, Interconnection, and Consciousness,” Peace and Policy, Vol. 15 (2010).


FramésetuDe, for solo guitar, Les Productions d’Oz, Montréal (2000).


Bidder to Better, on “American Music for Violin and Piano,” Nevelson Duo, Albany Records (2004).
The Sea Change, and Other Stories, on “Contemporary American Eclectic Music for the Piano, Vol. IV,” New Ariel Recordings (1997).
FramésetuDe, on “Bouquet,” Patrick Kearney, guitar, La Flame Records (1997).

Recent Compositions:

“Dream Catcher (for Haruki Murakami)” (2021) Piano
“Twelves” (2021) Computer
“Tetratudes” (2015-2021) Piano
“The Critters Project” (2014 – 2020)           Various ensembles