Saturday, November 18, 2006


There is plenty of moaning about "the state of music" from those of us who see it as more than a purely consumer-led distraction, and the condition of music education (or lack of it) in schools is also hotly debated. But what, constructively, is being done to address the situation? One person who is using the medium of TV to promote better understanding of music in popular but non-patronising ways is composer Howard Goodall. His latest venture, the series How Music Works (showing for an hour on Channel 4, four Saturdays from 18 November 2006 at 20.25), is an excellent case in point. Tonight's programme explored melody, and included references from classical, blues, Gregorian, African, Asian, jazz and rock idioms. Goodall is a gifted communicator. And the fact that he can genuinely appreciate Sting's adoption of the Dorian mode as well as the intricacies of Bach and the demandingness of Schoenberg really helps. He is not trying to build bridges across divides. He is delving into the multiple musical environments in which he lives, moves and has his being. My own choices of Twentieth Century Greats (2004) would have been different. You can't, in my view, overlook Messiaen. But that series, too, was enlightening and well crafted. More, please.

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