Winner 2000

Howard Goodall’s Big Bangs

A Tiger Aspect Production for NVC Arts and Channel 4

In Howard Goodall’s Big Bangs, renowned British composer Howard Goodall examines five seismic moments in the development of Western classical music. Mr. Goodall contends that without these moments—Big Bangs—music would not have evolved over the past millennium from the simplicity of medieval plainchant into the polyphony of musical riches today. This engaging 1000-year musical history starts with its first Big Bang, the development of “numes” or primitive musical notes. This liberating innovation enables music to be recorded on paper instead of simply being sung or played from memory. From this revelation comes another Big Bang in which the notes are then written in relationship to each other through scales, thus giving each note a musical reference point. Now music can be performed in the same key as it is written, by anyone who knows how to read the scale. From this point, the next explosion is the concept of the composer—someone who actually creates new music instead of recording old music from memory. Two more momentous developments—the multiple layering of musical compositions made for orchestras, and the composer software technology of the Twentieth Century—explode existing barriers and create new musical frontiers. Using examples of Gregorian chants, classical masterpieces and modern jazz, Mr. Goodall argues his point in an erudite yet humorous manner that is immensely entertaining and informative. Well written and illustrated with wit, this unique series is produced by Paul Sommers and directed by David Jeffcock. Sophisticated in its approach, yet very accessible with its dry sense of humor, a Peabody Award goes to Howard Goodall’s Big Bangs.