Bobby McFerrin gets vocal

This is a typically honest and cerebral interview with one of my all-time favorite musicians, Bobby McFerrin. He spoke with UK’s the Guardian in 2010 and discussed his early days, conducting, and Ave Maria and his other viral YouTube hits. Here he talks about one of them:

Last year (2009), Bobby McFerrin was one of a panel of experts at the World Science festival in New York, discussing music and its relation to the brain. As assorted musicologists and psychologists discussed the brain’s expectations of music, McFerrin leapt from his chair to illustrate some of the theories. He jumped up and down on the spot and sang a note, getting the audience to sing along. He then moved to his left and got the audience to sing a higher note. Before long he was skipping around half-a-dozen positions, orchestrating a roomful of people purely by gesture. It’s an astonishing, hilarious performance, one that quickly became a viral hit on YouTube.

“I was just displaying how the pentatonic scale – that’s basically the black notes on the piano – appears to be hardwired into every culture on earth,” he says. “It’s something I’ve been doing as part of my solo shows for years, and it seems to work everywhere I go. I’ve always wanted to break down the line between performer and audience. We’re a roomful of strangers and music is the one thing that binds us together, makes us an instant community. I’d like to think that people leave my concerts realising that they know a lot more about music than they realised.”

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