Bobby McFerrin and the pentatonic scale.

Sing along with this. I know you feel dumb, but just do it, it’s awesome.

Here’s some learnin’ about the pentatonic scale on Wikepedia.
Thanks to Hill for the tip.


3 Responses to Bobby McFerrin and the pentatonic scale.

  1. reuben says:

    I didn’t totally get it. was the fascination that everyone in the audience made the same pitch? I wonder if that was more the law of averages than our all “knowing” the pentatonic scale.

  2. stamperoo says:

    yes, the fascination is that the whole audience knew what the next pitches would be and were able to predict- i forget how many, exactly- but i think it was, like, FIVE notes. that’s absolutely not the law of averages.

    it was also awesome how in-tune they all were, pitch-wise, since they weren’t predicting the next note on a scale we think about (when westerners think of scales, in general, we think of the heptatonic 7 note scale popularized by the
    do-re-me song. the pentatonic scale is a different set of notes.)

    the reason is that pentatonic scales are sort of hardwired into how humans think- they’re the basis for lots of music from lots of cultures. the heptatonic scale is kind of hard to improvise with- you can’t just randomly hit any note in any order on a heptatonic, as there are “rules” about what notes sound good together. but on a pentatonic, there aren’t the same rules- all the notes sound good in any sequence.

    the thing is that most north american people, myself included, have never been taught or explicitly exposed to the pentatonic scale (at least, not in the same way as we all learned the do-re-me septatonic). i could not believe that the audience got those pitches, even though i myself was singing along in my head and i knew what the next pitches would be, too. didn’t you?

    i thought maybe it was because i’d heard the song somewhere before. but no, it’s because humans understand the pentatonic scale.

  3. […] Bobby McFerrin and the pentatonic scale. « funny blog pageslap […]

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