Thursday, November 16, 2006

Howard Goodall: How Music Works

Howard GoodallFans of music – that is to say, those people who are captivated and enthralled by this spooky art form that stimulates at a level beyond words, as opposed to that brutish herd who queue overnight outside HMV to stick their snouts in whatever some ghastly conglomerate has filled the trough with this morning – will sing a joyful Te Deum this Saturday when the incomparable Howard Goodall returns to our screens, getting down to brass tacks in explaining to a rapt Channel 4 viewing public “How Music Works.”

Mr Goodall first swam into An Spailpín’s ken in 2004, when he presented a series called “Twentieth Century Greats,” and An Spailpín was hooked for ever more. Here at last was the ghost in the machine, the reason why Lennon and McCartney operated at a different level to anyone else, why Cole Porter was unique, and those other mysteries that seem so impenetrable to the novice or amateur. You all love “America,” from West Side Story, of course, but have you ever wondered why it’s such a great song? Have you every asked of America what Pete Townsend asked of the Pinball Wizard? How do you think he does it? What makes him so good? Well, Howard Goodall knows, and what’s more, he’s able to explain it.

Howard Goodall is one of these unique experts in a field, who not only fully understands his or her brief, but is also able to teach. Most people have teaching thrust upon them, in every sense, but Goodall, like all great teachers, just wants to share the fun. He does not eschew jargon – every craft needs its specialist vocabulary, of course – but Goodall, unlike some leading literary intellectuals whom An Spailpín chooses not to name, doesn’t use jargon to disguise his own deficiencies. Like the great teacher he is, Goodall uses jargon to explain, not to confuse. Goodall has nothing to hide; all he wants to do is share, so that the masses will be able to enjoy music, great music, at a little higher level than perhaps they are enjoying it currently.

Not that the masses will be watching, of course; they’ll be annoying some poor little girl behind the counter in HMV about some new product from Coldplay, or whomever. But never mind – Mr Goodall will find his audience, and front and centre among them shall be An Spailpín Fánach. All yours, maestro.

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