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PICK OF THE WEEK: Howard Goodall’s Story of Mu­sic, Satur­day, BBC2, 9.30pm.

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Television -

ROM Bach to Bowie and Beethoven to the Bea­tles a new se­ries starts on BBC2 tonight char­ing the devel­op­ment of west­ern mu­sic.

It’s a big re­mit, but Howard Goodall is an ac­com­plished per­former, ar­ranger, com­poser and con­duc­tor will per­form the var­i­ous tech­niques and move­ments which changed the his­tory of mu­sic and will also re­flect on the im­pact of his­tor­i­cal and so­cial de­vel­op­ments.

Aban­don­ing the tra­di­tional cat­e­gories of ‘baroque’, ‘clas­si­cal’, ‘ro­man­tic’, Goodall in­stead re­shapes the chronol­ogy into dis­tinct ages, fol­low­ing the way mu­sic has shocked, chal­lenged and en­tranced au­di­ences across the cen­turies. So tonight we will be­gin by with the age of dis­cov­ery and when the six week se­ries draws to an end with the pop­u­lar age, it will also have taken in the age of el­e­gance and sen­si­bil­ity and the age of re­bel­lion.

A firm be­liever that the ap­par­ent gap be­tween pop­u­lar and clas­si­cal mu­sic is mostly an ar­ti­fi­cial one, the pro­gramme will also fea­ture spe­cially recorded ex­cerpts by vi­o­lin­ist Ni­cola Ben­detti. The Sac­coni Quar­tet and the Maria Fidelis Con­vent School Gospel Choir.

“Mu­sic is around 40,000 years old,” says Goodall. “It’s never ceased to be cru­cial for hu­mankind and may have even come be­fore speech. Since Up­per Palae­olithic times mu­sic has played a pro­found part in our lives, both pub­lic and pri­vate.

“The premise be­hind this se­ries was to look at the key de­vel­op­ments in mu­sic’s ex­tra­or­di­nary jour­ney. The pur­poses for which it was used, who paid for it, and why, de­vel­op­ments within mu­si­cal struc­ture, and the ar­rival of in­stru­ments and tech­niques we now take for granted. All of which evolved over cen­turies.”

In this first episode, Goodall be­gins in the Stone Age, look­ing at how the devel­op­ment of pitch aware­ness was a mat­ter of life and death.

“Once we be­gan to live in set­tled com­mu­ni­ties, mu­sic be­came a cru­cial el­e­ment in re­li­gion and rit­ual – which it still is,” he says. “Mu­sic com­pe­ti­tions ar­rived with the Greeks – and then the devel­op­ment of pro­fes­sional mu­si­cians. But not com­posers. Sadly, the mu­sic of the an­cient world is lost to us, and that’s be­cause no-one found a sat­is­fac­tory way of writ­ing mu­sic down. But around 1000AD an Ital­ian monk called Guido did find a work­able method. This was ap­plied to the only form of mu­sic most peo­ple in Europe would have heard on any­thing like a reg­u­lar ba­sis – church mu­sic.”

So-called Gregorian Chant devel­oped painstak­ingly over sev­eral cen­turies. Then, armed with Guido’s no­ta­tion, a new breed of mu­si­cian wrote ever more com­plex pieces of mu­sic.

“In­stru­men­tal mu­sic be­gan to de­velop into fa­mil­iar pat­terns too in the 12th-cen­tury with the ar­rival of the troubadour – singing songs of courtly love de­rived from Ara­bic orig­i­nals,” adds Goodall.

“Af­ter many cen­turies of slow devel­op­ment, things be­gan to move apace as the Mid­dle Ages started to give way to the Re­nais­sance. Chords, the bread and but­ter of all sub­se­quent west­ern mu­sic, only ar­rived in the 14th­cen­tury. Around this time, the tune in most pieces of mu­sic mi­grated to the top of the har­mony, where it still lives to­day.

“Af­ter a cen­tury or more of re­li­gious wars, sec­u­lar mu­sic swept across west­ern Europe. The love song came into its own in Eng­land around 1600, just as opera be­gan in Italy. A thou­sand years of mu­si­cal devel­op­ment were re­alised with the great works of Mon­teverdi, prov­ing that mu­sic’s tools were now ca­pa­ble of ex­press­ing com­pli­cated, even con­flict­ing emo­tions.”

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