The Seasons BBC Drama Workshop in The Times// Culture Review (Posted By Harry)
Written By Will Hodgkinson
“Now Trunk has unearthed a legendary, long-buried album by the BBC Drama Workshop, which was designed for use with that staple of British primary school education in the early Seventies: the music and the movement class. Music and movement was a product of forward-thinking hippies who infiltrated both the BBC and British education. They believed that getting young children to skip around a gym in pants and plimsolls, pretending to be a leaf in the wind, was much more useful than, say, making them do 30 squats in sub-zero temperatures.
The Seasons aligns the nature-themed poetry of Ronald Duncan, best known for his libretto for Britten’s The Rape Of Lucretia, with the music of David Cain, an employee of the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop who aimed to evoke the sounds of the Earth through electronic experimentation. It is remarkable.
Narrated by the broadcaster Derek Bowskill, The Seasons demonstrates a respect for the intelligence and imagination of young children. It also shows how hidebound attitudes to education have become in the decades since it was released. It has 16 tracks- one for each month of the year, plus one for each season – and combines the traditional with the avant-garde, the sinister with the domestic and reassuring. You certainly don’t hear lines such as “within the groin of grief, their branches breaking” in PE classes today…
The fact that a generation of British children spent their formative years unwittingly listening to The Seasons while following their teacher’s exhortations to be a tree, might have caused some of the psychological aberrations of today’s fortysomethings, but that’s a small price to pay. The album demonstrates that music and movement should be reinstated as a key part of primary school education, and that the spoken word still has a place on the musical landscape.”