We don't know much about the human brain on music. Do people instinctively know the sound patterns of the pentatonic scale? Is there a base level of musical knowledge in all of us, just waiting to be tapped? Or is the pentatonic scale simply so common in Western music that it has become ingrained in all of our minds? Improvisational genius Bobby McFerrin uses audience participation to demonstrate the power of the pentatonic scale - or at least the audience's familiarity with it.
The composer examines the extraordinarily fertile musical period between 1650 and 1750, which saw innovations including the orchestra, the overture, modern tuning, the oratorio and the piano. Vivaldi developed a form of concerto where a charismatic solo violin was pitted against the rest of the orchestra, Bach wrote complex and heartfelt music in his mission to glorify God, and Handel brought all the techniques of the preceding 100 years to his oratorio Messiah.
In 1969, 500,000 people descended on a small field in a little-known town in upstate New York called Woodstock. The documentary that captured the iconic event, chronicled in unflinching detail this moment in history. But how was this groundbreaking film actually made?
2019 • Music
In standard notation, rhythm is indicated on a musical bar line. But there are other ways to visualize rhythm that can be more intuitive. John Varney describes the ‘wheel method’ of tracing rhythm and uses it to take us on a musical journey around the world.
Documentary charting the life of Eric Clapton, widely renowned as one of the greatest performers of all time. But behind the scenes lay restlessness and tragedy. The insatiable search to grow his artistic voice left fans surprised as he constantly quit successful bands, from the groundbreaking Yardbirds to 60s supergroup Cream. His isolated pursuit of his craft, and fear of selling out, served as a catalyst for his evolution as an artist. Stretching from his traumatic childhood living in a 'house of secrets', to his long struggle with drugs and alcohol, and the tragic loss of his son in a heart-breaking accident, Eric Clapton always found an inner strength and healing in music. Told through his own words and songs, as well as those of his family, friends, musical collaborators, contemporaries and many heroes - including BB King, Jimi Hendrix and George Harrison.
2017 • Music
In the 1970s, Jamaica came alive to the sounds of roots reggae. British rapper, poet and political commentator Akala tells the story of this golden period in the island's musical history, a time when a small group of musicians took songs of Rastafari, revolution and hope to the international stage.
2016 • Music
Ian Hislop and John Eliot Gardiner reveal the story behind Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Described as the 'greatest 'great' piece ever written,' its opening notes are among the most recognisable in history. But no one really knows what Beethoven was trying to express with this piece. The traditional wisdom is that he is railing against fate and his deafness. But John Eliot believes the music expresses Beethoven's belief in the French Revolution. This is turbulent music from a turbulent man living in a turbulent age. John Eliot and Ian Hislop bring to life the exciting and dangerous times that shaped Beethoven personally and creatively.
2016 • Music