Music GCSE: Blues and ragtime
In this short film Howard Goodall explores the origins of blues music and ragtime and looks at how the invention of recorded music popularised folk and spiritual African American music.
He considers the impact of early recordings of Afro-American spirituals with examples of folk and blues songs, such as those from the slave plantations of the American deep south.
He explores other influences, such as military marching songs and ragtime, and demonstrates the typical "blues" notes, such as flattened 7ths and 3rds and the workings of ragtime syncopation.
This short film is from the BBC series, Howard Goodall's Story of Music.
You could use this short film to highlight the key compositional features of the blues and explain the concept of 'blue notes'.
Ask your students to work in pairs to compose up with a call and response based on the blues scale.
Students could then write some blues inspired lyrics to accompany their 12 bar blues composition.
This short film will be useful for teaching music, particularly in the areas of music history, notation, composition, music theory and understanding styles.