Music GCSE: Key signatures, equal temperament and the 12-tone tuning system

The 12-tone tuning system is also known as “equal temperament”. Goodall shows how this system makes it easy to transpose music into different key signatures.

Johann Sebastian Bach’s 'The Well-Tempered Clavier' was an early set of works which demonstrated the full range of equal temperament.

Includes extracts from J.S Bach, Fats Waller, Michael Nyman and examples played on piano, swanny whistle, harpsichord and recorder.

This clip is from the series Howard Goodall's Story of Music.

Teacher Notes

Use this clip when looking at different instruments and the different keys they play in. For example violin in C and trumpet in Bb.

Set students the task of transposing a small piece of music from C to Bb.

This clip could also be used when learning about the different playing techniques and capabilities of each instrument.

Curriculum Notes

This topic is relevant to, GCSE, AS Level and Higher Music in the areas of notation, history of music, composition, and understanding styles.

More from Howard Goodall's Story of Music:

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Harmony, intervals, triads and cadences
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Harmony, dissonance and an introduction to opera
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Handel, the pianoforte and oratorio
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Mozart, melodic writing and the symphony
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Haydn, symphonies and melodic writing
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A profile of Beethoven
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Franz Liszt, symphonic poems and orchestral music
Saint-Saëns and developments in French composition
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Debussy, world music and impressionism
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Shostakovich and the effects of Nazi rule on composers
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Minimalism and the advance of music technology
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Stravinsky, Russian music and modernism
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Blues and ragtime
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