Education & Family

Help! Beatles to feature in new music GCSE

The Fab Four Image copyright PA
Image caption Students will study The Beatles' lyrics, melodies and harmonies

The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is set to be widely studied in a new music GCSE.

Exam board AQA says there is no better band to study as they helped "define popular music".

Candidates will study three tracks from the album: With A Little Help From My Friends, Within You Without You, and Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.

Pupils will also be able to use deejaying for the performance section of the GCSE.

AQA's music GCSE is split into three sections:

  • understanding music
  • performing
  • composing

Students will be asked to look at the various aspects that make up The Beatles' songs - including:

  • melody
  • harmony
  • structure
  • rhythm
  • meaning

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds was widely thought to be a reference to taking the psychedelic drug LSD, because of the initialism created by the first letter of each of the title nouns.

But John Lennon, who wrote the lyrics, always maintained that it was inspired by a picture drawn by his five-year-old son.


Ernie Sutton, treasurer of the British Beatles Fan Club, said: "The Beatles changed the face of popular music and song-writing in a very short space of time, which future musicians benefited from.

"It is fantastic that young people can study their groundbreaking and influential Sgt. Pepper album, which changed recording techniques forever."

The GCSE revamp comes after a major overhaul of exams by the previous government, which was designed to toughen up qualifications.

In the performance section, deejaying, including a combination of technical skills, such as "scratching", and other methods, will be accepted alongside playing a musical instrument and singing.

The exam board added performances could feature anything from Luciano Pavarotti to Beyonce.

Guitarist Carlos Santana's album Supernatural is also included in the course as well as classical works by composers Haydn and Copland.

AQA said it had submitted the qualification to exams regulator Ofqual for accreditation.

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