Britain's GCSE exams to recognise teenage DJs

LONDON (AFP) - Budding DJs in England will be able to use their turntable talents to impress examiners following an overhaul of the country's music curriculum.

The booming popularity of electronic music has forced officials to recognise the mixing talents of teenage students studying for their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examination, although more traditional pupils will still be able to sing or play an instrument.

The AQA exam board said it will test skills required for DJing, including mixing records together and "scratching", the rapid back-and-forth movement of a record to produce the high-pitched rhythmical effect often heard in hip-hop.

In another concession to the modern age, students will study the theory behind Beatles seminal album "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and Grammy award winning "Supernatural" by Latin rocker Santana.

"Pop music began in this country with The Beatles in the swinging sixties, so what better band to look to for the study of contemporary music than the Fab Four," said AQA's Seb Ross.

"We've chosen The Beatles because John, Paul, Ringo and George helped to define popular music and the iconic Sgt. Pepper album has taken on a life of its own, so it's an exciting addition to AQA's Music GCSE."

Others like the Guardian's music critic Alexis Petridis were less impressed.

"I'm all for the music GCSE trying to get students to engage with rock and pop music as well as classical, but with all due respect to the makers of Sgt Pepper, I wonder if a Beatles album knocking on 50 years old is any more relevant to a teenager than Haydn is," he wrote in Thursday's edition.

"I'd like to have been in the meeting where, with the whole rich and brilliant history of pop and rock from which to choose something for students to dissect and examine in depth, they came to the conclusion that the obvious answer was Supernatural by Santana," he added.

"I've literally got no idea whatsoever why anyone would think that was a good idea."

GCSEs are taken by all secondary school pupils, after which they are free to enter the workplace or continue for another two years before taking A-Levels.

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