How Music Works
We all respond to music – whether clicking our fingers, humming along or dancing – there’s something out there for everyone. In this series Goodall looks at melody, rhythm, harmony and bass to establish how music is made and how it comes to reflect different cultures.
Setting out on a journey that spans the globe and moves through the centuries, Goodall uncovers the elements that are shared by all styles of music. Following a trail of diverse musical talents from Mahler to David Bowie; the blues to Bulgarian folk songs; medieval choral music to disco; he reveals the tried and tested tricks of the composer’s trade.
Melody – In this film composer Howard Goodall looks at melody’s basic elements. Why are some melodic shapes common to all cultures across the world? Can successful melodies be written at random? If not, what are the familiar melodic patterns composers of all types of music have fallen back on again and again, and why do they work?
Rhythm – From the moment our hearts start beating, rhythm is integral to us all. From walking to dancing, from clicking our fingers to tapping our toes, we are all programmed to respond to rhythm. In this film Howard looks at the common rhythmic patterns that have been used by musicians from all cultures, from Brahms to rappers, from the founders of Cuban son to Philip Glass, from Stevie Wonder to Fats Waller.
Harmony – In the late middle ages western harmony started on a journey that would take it in a completely separate direction to that of the music of other parts of the world. It discovered chords, and, over the next seven centuries, began to unlock their harmonic possibilities. In this film Howard looks at how western harmony works, and how, in the present day, it has fused with other forms of music to create new styles.
Bass – For half a millennium instrument makers have been trying to construct instruments of all shapes and sizes capable of thudding, sonorous low notes. Only with the arrival of the synthesizer did they succeed in producing a rival to the mighty organ. With disco, dance, and drum ‘n’ bass, the bass has arrived centre stage.
Watch the full documentary now (playlist – 3 hours, 13 minutes)