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

In this short film Howard Goodall explains the origin of the 12-tone tuning system that has become the foundation of classical and popular western music.

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 and Michael Nyman.

This short film is from the BBC series, Howard Goodall's Story of Music.

Teacher Notes

You could use this short film 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 short film will be useful for teaching music, particularly in the areas of music history, notation, composition, music theory 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
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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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