About Bobby McFerrin

Robert Keith McFerrin Jr or “Bobby McFerrin” is a well-known American Jazz-Folk singer, performer, and the writer and performer of the beloved song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” He specialises in scat-singing. He is famed for his ability to jump pitches in a split second and is a standout solo performer.

World Science Festival

The World Science Festival hosted McFerrin in a section named “In Search of the Common Chorus” in which he explored the pentatonic scale and how it can be applied to everyday people in order to find a unified commonality in musical tone, as well as find out if the scale is built into us as individuals and how it is interwoven into our subconscious minds.

What Is The Pentatonic Scale?

The Pentatonic scale is measured in five notes per octave. Its origins are unknown, but it has been used independently by ancient civilizations throughout time as a way of singing and harmonising. The scale has since been used even up to the present day, with many artists and groups using the scale as a means of creating a joyous melody for anyone who listens. It is a joyful scale that sounds pleasant no matter which way you use it, bottom to top, top to bottom and even jumping around in the middle.

In the performance, McFerrin can be seen guiding the crowd through the pentatonic scale, in an easy-to-learn format, he jumps up and down the stage, right to left, left being the lower end of the scale and right being the higher end of the scale. After a few jumps and guidance notes from McFerrin the crowd seems to grasp what he is doing and so follows a harmonised pentatonic performance, orchestrated by McFerrin jumping up and down on a stage.

It’s a simple concept but fascinating, the crowd, having likely never met before can harmonise to perfection, almost without conscious thought or prompting, which then brings to mind the thought in question, is the pentatonic scale built into the human brain through generations of cultural use or is it something we have grown accustomed to through exposure in the modern era? Food for thought indeed.

See More From Bobby McFerrin

This is an amusing and interesting performance from the American performer and brings to mind some poignant questions as well as being an entertaining video to watch. To see more from Bobby McFerrin, go to his official website.