There are so far exactly two songs from the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack that have grabbed my attention. They are The Shape of Things to Come by Bear McCreary and Metamorphosis One by Philip Glass. I want the piano sheet music to both of these!

The latter came up early in the second season, credited to Kara Thrace’s father, but was originally from Glass’s 1989 album “Solo Piano”. That means the sheet music is at my grasp, all I have to do is pay for it.

The former is decidedly more difficult. Even if a piano arrangement of the first season of Battlestar Galactica was published, I could buy it just for this one song. The composer maintains a blog about the BSG soundtrack but I can’t very well write a comment saying “I really like this one song. You should put out a piano arrangement of it, but not any of the other songs because they all kinda suck.” Maybe I can convince a music student to transcribe it for me. Music students are good for that sort of thing.

Now, onto the second topic of the day, the BSG timeline. One outstanding question remains is the time that the series takes place. In the BSG universe the Earth is a colony of another planet, Kobol, where humans originated, but when that colonization happened, in either the BSG world or ours, is open to debate.

The timeline at the BSG wiki puts the colonization of Earth as far back as 4000 before the series takes place. Human civilization on Earth can be dated back as far as 10 000 years ago, but it didn’t really start to take off until about 8000 to 4000 years ago.

Here are some options:

  • The dawn of human civilization on Earth and the arrival of settlers from Kobol is the same thing, and so must have happened much earlier than 2000 BC. This means, assuming the Galactica finds Earth at the end of this season as we all expect it will, in our timeline it has already arrived.
  • The writers have taken more liberty with the Earth’s timeline than our history professors would like, so that humans arrived on Earth 4000 years ago and the fleet from the other Twelve Colonies will arrive in the present day.
  • Kobol settlers arrived on Earth and mingled with the native human population. Depending on when they arrived, the series could be happening at almost any time.

There are other clues to work with.

  • The Colonials worship, and have since their Kobol days, the good old fashioned Greek Gods. At first glance this could have just been a convenient way to give them a different religion—they may not actually be the same Greek gods, but they’re translated that way so that we can understand what they’re talking about in the same way that aliens in sci-fi shows always speak English, even when they explicitly don’t speak English. However, there’s more and more evidence these are the same gods. It has already turned out that our twelve signs of the zodiac are named after the Twelve Colonies and not the other way around. It might be that the Kobol settlers brought their religion with them and taught it to the Greeks. I don’t know when these Greek gods came up, but I could guess several thousand years ago. That could put the series in the present day.
  • Technology is a problem. The Kobols arrived in spaceships 4000 years before the series and still had spaceships a thousand years later to go back to Kobol. One can imagine they lost their technology after arriving, but it’s slightly harder to believe that they hung onto it in good working order for a thousand years and then lost it. Why didn’t anybody, in those thousand years, make note of that spaceship parked in the back yard?
  • The final four Cylons heard Bob Dylan music in their heads. Sure, Kara Thrace played a Philip Glass song, but in the BSG universe her father wrote it so it doesn’t give us a timeline. The Dylan song, though, wasn’t explained at all. We know now that the final five Cylons have been to Earth. They also said that hearing the song was like remembering something out of childhood, and hearing it made them realise that they were Cylons. It could be a very deliberate choice, then, to use a real song instead of just composing some crazy Cylon music, and this could be a firm clue as to when the series takes place (i.e., present day).
  • Davis Quinton, on Corner Gas, thinks that we could all be descendants of the last surviving Battlestar. But presumably, this is based on the original series and not the new one. Too bad though, it would be a cool theory.

I’m currently torn between two theories. I think it would be cool to have it end up that BSG is taking place in the present day and that we are all descendants of the thirteenth tribe of Kobol. It’s probably the story that fits best with the timeline so far. On the other hand, I’m still betting that the Final Five Cylons are not Cylons at all but something similar that has not just visited Earth but actually originated here. That would mean the series takes place in the future, which might strain the timeline of the settlement of Earth in the first place. But maybe not—a couple hundred years in either direction never hurt anybody. (I’m also really hoping that contact between the Final Five and the Cylons we’re familiar with somehow precipitated the war. Maybe the Final Five were sent to re-establish contact with the Twelve Colonies and the Cylons didn’t take kindly to the idea.) But as far as the topic of this post, I just want to know how the timeline will resolve itself, whether the choice of using the Bob Dylan song means anything, and how to play The Shape of Things to Come on the piano.

Addendum: Bear McCreary talks about the use of the Bob Dylan / Jimi Hendrix song here. Apparently the idea is that the song comes from a Colonial composer, and just happens to be the same as a song on Earth. I still think it’s a suspicious, though. But maybe, if both colonies can write the same song, both can invent the same Cylons, and therefore my theory is right. Woo me! (Just wait until the series finale when I’m proved utterly wrong…)

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One Response to “Battlestar Galactica music and timeline”

  1. [...] a little sad to see that BSG arrives on Earth in a post-apocalyptic state. As I said before, I hoped to see Earth in the near-future, with Cylon-like technology, having been trying to reach [...]

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