Friday Find: Power of the Pentatonic

It has been a long while since our last Friday find! It has been on hiatus mostly due to a very busy work schedule combined with a backlog of summer projects. It is my resolution to make a better effort this year about getting them up in a timely manner. Without adieu here is Bobby McFerrin presenting “The Power of the Pentatonic” – commentary is behind the cut!

This video is a powerful one. Bobby McFerrin puts into words what so many of us know as music teachers, that the concepts and skills we teach are universal and so powerful that is almost written into our own DNA. There are so many things to love about this video.

First, it is always a pleasure to watch Bobby McFerrin teach. The way he leads the audience through the pentatonic scale is amazing. While the World Science Festival does tend to attract quite a crowd of high achievers it is fair to say there were plenty of “non-musicians” in the audience. Yet he brilliantly leads them through a crash course in sight singing that any of us could easily steal.

Second, his reinforcement of music through movement is masterful. Without hand signs or notation he is able to have an entire audience following his lead in unison. By using his body as a human keyboard he is able to lead the audience in a improvised duet. And what a duet it is. He shows how the pentatonic scale can create rich and engaging melodies, which anyone who is familiar with his solo work already knew.

There are two quotes that I absolute love. The first is Bobby, “Regardless of where I am, anywhere. Every audience gets that, it doesn’t matter. It’s just the pentatonic scale, for some reason.” The second is in response “If you’re looking for a job in neuroscience…”

We may not be brain surgeons, but we certain can help reshape the human mind.

The Friday Find is a weekly feature of and features videos that would appeal to music educators, folk historians, and music lovers in general. You can view an archive of our Friday Finds here. If you would like to suggest a Friday Find please contact our Media Secretary via our contact form and include the subject Friday Find Suggestion.

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