Culture Curriculum music Teaching

Musical Traditions

Two volumes on World Music published by The Rough Guide, 1999

Purely for my own learning and enjoyment I explored the new music curriculum and, especially, the section called Musical Traditions. For each musical tradition, listed below, there is a suggested, representative title (track) and artist. These are compiled into a Pannage Spotify Playlist here >
Enjoy it while you read on.

The model Music Curriculum (England), dated 2021, has had a difficult gestation but I will not dwell on those details. I advocate secondary schoolteachers having a wider interest in the whole school curriculum but I have no special interest to make for music. Having repeatedly avoided the “schools should” route to piling on curriculum content, according to the latest whim, I am not going to start now. “Children must do Mozart” news headlines are a distraction.

The National Curriculum (England) music programmes of study are suitably brief (external link opens in new tab). (published 26 March 2021) I have focused on Key Stage 3 (11-14) and the more interesting detail in the non-statutory guidance (NSG) which, as we know, tends to become the de facto content specification use by schools. There is further detail in numerous appendices. By concentrating solely on the key area of “listening” I am selecting from the Model Music Curriculum (MMC) and will leave consideration of the entirety to the professsional music teachers.

The introduction to the NSG says

The MMC sets out sequences of learning in the following key areas which, when taken together, all contribute towards the steadily increasing development of musicianship:
• Singing
• Listening
• Composing
• Performing/Instrumental Performance
Within each of these areas are some suggested repertoire choices to support teachers in delivering the curriculum and, in the appendices, suggested approaches to demonstrate the way in which musical listening, meaning, performance and composition are linked.

Key Stage 3 page 4

And I will fillet this from the programme of study (POS) subject content… “They should … understand musical structures, styles, genres and traditions, identifying the expressive use of musical dimensions. They should listen with increasing discrimination and awareness to inform their practice as musicians.”

Styles, genres and traditions

Styles, genres and traditions are not specified in the statutory programme of study but in the NSG. These are four-fold:
The Western Classical Tradition up to the 1940s;
The Western Classical Tradition and Film beyond the 1940s;
Popular Music;
Musical Traditions.

So, you can see I am considering a sub-set of a sub-set of MMC content. I really should return to the others and, perhaps, I will. Out of interest, I thought the term “World music” had been avoided but it does make an appearance in Appendix 2. I am not picking a fight with the terms used. It must have been very difficult for the various professionals finding consensus on many aspects of the MMC.

The Musical Traditions are given a country as follows:
• Brazil – Samba
• India – Bollywood
• Japan – Taiko
• India – Indian Classical
• Middle East – Folk
• Portugal – Folk
• Indonesian – Gamelan
• Jamaica – Reggae
• Ireland – Folk
• Zimbabwe – African Choral

For each musical tradition there is one representative title (track) and artist. I have compiled them into a Pannage Spotify Playlist here >

I enjoyed listening to this playlist and I think it is an interesting, comprehensive and diverse list. It consists of eighteen tracks running to about one and half hours. Generally, I prefer to listen to whole albums and I did so from this list. Nothing here was a great surprise to me. We have seen the mighty Kodo Drummers at the Royal Festival Hall. I am very privileged to have seen Ravi Shankar at the Royal Albert Hall and The Carnegie Hall, New Youk. Samba is not my thing but I understand why it is included. Indeed, the choices serve more than the curriculum purpose of listening. They may also demonstrate, for example rhythm or make good performance songs for schools.

The appendices to the NSG provide a brief commentary, quite technical, on each with the primary purpose of integrating the key areas as listed above. Clearly the Spotify “about” section, or any search engine, would provide further details of the artist and their discography.

Traditional Folk and World music can be used to enhance and deliver aspects of the Model Music Curriculum. They are especially useful in developing aural awareness, and to help pupils appreciate and understand music from different traditions.

Appendix 2 – Chronology: Repertoire in Context

Spotify playlists also make further suggestions based on the playlist. The technology enables a spring-board to some great music.

What’s missing?

I expressly stated that my purpose was not to critique the MMC from my level of ignorance or to add to the burden of the school curriculum. However, it is an interesting to consider what is presented there now and what might be missing. Purely for personal interest. The two 700-page books in the top image and the two double-CDs below indicate an eclectic interest from over twenty years ago. There are more CDs in my collection. It is also interesting to note the recent date, generally, of the MMC selection – to enable availability, no doubt. The Appendix 2 of the MMC NSG called “Chronology: Repertoire in Context” adds almost 50 more tracks for Years 7 to 9. I might add those to the playlist in due course.

Two double-CDs, The Music Collective International, 1999 (not on Spotify in this form)

I wouldn’t intend to flood the list with anglophone or British music but one of these could be added from this century. These are “big-hitters”, not obscure choices.

England – Folk – Roots – Show of Hands from Witness, 2006.
England – Folk – London Town – Bellowhead from Burlesque, 2006.
England – Folk – Poor Wayfaring Stranger – Eliza Carthy with Norma Waterson from Gift, 2010.
Scotland – Folk – Resolution – Dougie Maclean, from Resolution, 2010.
England – Folk – Benjamin Bowmaneer- Kate Rusby – from Life in a Paper Boat, 2016.

USA – Country – Wasted – Carrie Underwood – from Some Hearts, 2006.
Mali – Traditional (and cross-cultural) – Hamadoun Toure – Toumani Diabate and Sidki Diabate – from Toumani and Sidiki, 2014.
South Africa – Cape Jazz – Soweto – Abdullah Ibrahim Trio from Cape Town Revisited, 2010.

From just before the twentieth-first century I would add:
Senegal – Seven Seconds – Yousou N’Dour (featuring Neneh Cherry) from the album The Guide (Wommat), 1994.
Cuba – Chan Chan – Buena Vista Social Club, from Buena Vista Social Club, 1997.

How about…?

Incidentally, there is a “Year 9 Culminarion Project – The Blues”. A good choice for a round up of the MMC.

My main sources for current releases, and inspiration, are the BBC Radio 2 Folk Show, Blues Show and BBC Radio 6 Cerys Matthews.

There it is: guidelines for a musical canon. An education in music. Great fun. And there’s so much more to explore. Suggestions welcome.

I often post #nowlistening to Twitter – follow me @AngusWillson

See further ruminations on my listening habits at
My Music: Shifting Sands” >

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