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alanz
Jul-29-2009, 7:33pm
Found this fascinating.

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale

groveland
Jul-29-2009, 10:04pm
Go figure!

JEStanek
Jul-29-2009, 10:18pm
Must be nice to have a chance to sing with Bobby. Pretty cool. Thanks for sharing.

Jamie

AZStu
Jul-29-2009, 10:26pm
If the Pentatonic Scale is hard wired into our brains, maybe there is still hope for suburbanites who want to play the blues!

mandodan1960
Jul-30-2009, 1:37am
I just do not get how what he did in anyway can be considered a representation of the pentatonic scale. Now of course I know that I'm wrong and that Mr. Mcferrin and many other members here are far more knowledgable in music theory than myself I don't dispute that but help me understand how spending 90 % of a demonstration on 4 (it seems) consecutive notes illustrates a pentatonic scale. It just looked like he started on C went to D, then E and back to B he spent on good deal of time on those four positions and then hopped four notes to the bass side and 4 notes to the treble side I guess goofing around. At what point was a 5 note pentatonic scale being demonstrated. I.E ( C, D, E, G, and A ) it just looked to me like he was playing around with 12 consecutive notes. I guess it more illustrated to me how the language of the major scale spanning almost two octaves is universal. I'm I missing something or just taking a fun little demo too seriously.

Mandodan1960

cyeiser
Jul-30-2009, 2:00am
The three notes he started with were the 3, 4, and 5. He didn't actually touch the tonic until much later in the demonstration.

mandodan1960
Jul-30-2009, 2:11am
So he basically focused on three notes 3,4 and 5 and visited a fourth note 1(tonic) later.
I'm still confused how that demonstrates a pentatonic scale. Is it safe to say that it really didn't demonstrate much of anything.

Jim Dalton
Jul-30-2009, 8:55am
He most certainly did demonstrate the pentatonic scale.

He started with 1 2 & 3 and then went down to 6 eventually using 1,2,3,5,6 and their octaves.

Listen again more carefully.

John Flynn
Jul-30-2009, 8:58am
Jim! You're back! I missed you! I'm not kidding! :)

JeffD
Jul-30-2009, 9:07am
He most certainly did demonstrate the pentatonic scale.

He started with 1 2 & 3 and then went down to 6 eventually using 1,2,3,5,6 and their octaves.

Listen again more carefully.

That is what I got too.

The point is the notes that the audience just got without him giving the musica cue.

I wonder if he had done that demonstration to an isolate community totaly unfamiliar with western music. It is hard to find such communities anymore, and so the question is still kind of open as to whether folks are acculturated to hear those intervals, or if there is something fundamental about them and the human brain.

I have seen some tests with an osciallator in which totally unmusical folks were able to correctly pick out the pentatonic scale. But again, they were all westerners who had already been exposed to hundreds of hours of jingles and commercials and movie music.

Everything you ever hear affects how you hear.

mdlorenz
Jul-30-2009, 9:13am
very cool!

tallmike
Jul-30-2009, 9:21am
great video..thanks, Alan!

alanz
Jul-30-2009, 9:52am
And he didn't use a capo <s>

Jim Dalton
Jul-30-2009, 11:11am
[QUOTE=JeffD;695093]
I wonder if he had done that demonstration to an isolate community totaly unfamiliar with western music. It is hard to find such communities anymore, and so the question is still kind of open as to whether folks are acculturated to hear those intervals, or if there is something fundamental about them and the human brain.
QUOTE]


But much non-western music is based on the pentatonic scale too.

Especially in East Asia, it is ubiquitous.

Even in a "scale-rich" society like India -- some of the ragas are quite pentatonic

OldSausage
Jul-30-2009, 3:34pm
There's no context here, but there's no suggestion that he was trying to say there is anything "innate" about the pentatonic scale. All we saw was that he said it was all about expectations - then he taught people what to expect and their brains supplied the expected notes. I imagine this same trick would work with all kinds of different scales.

journeybear
Jul-30-2009, 3:51pm
I think the interesting thing here is when he got away from the notes he had taught and people followed him to notes three positions both lower and higher along the pentatonic scale (as JeffD pointed out), not the chromatic scale. He says that people everywhere get this, but he doesn't specify where. Still, I assume he means around the world, as he has indeed circled the globe numerous times. But as JeffD also rightly states, "Everything you ever hear affects how you hear," and I can attest that here in America I have been swamped with the pentatonic scale for a lifetime. So far ... ;)

So whether this is the result of something innate or something learned from experience is anyone's guess - unless one finds a completely isolated culture. To me, its prevalence in so many cultures does seem to imply there is something people are born with that they respond to. Don't forget, Tarzan grew up apart from people and he used the pentatonic scale. :grin:

GTG
Jul-30-2009, 7:01pm
He most certainly did demonstrate the pentatonic scale.

He started with 1 2 & 3 and then went down to 6 eventually using 1,2,3,5,6 and their octaves.

Listen again more carefully.

In case anyone's confused about this - he started with 1,2,3 of the MAJOR pentatonic scale (C, D, E), or 3,4,5 of the MINOR pentatonic scale (C, D, E if working out of A minor).

Jim Dalton
Jul-30-2009, 7:36pm
--

groveland
Jul-31-2009, 10:16pm
--
~o)

JeffD
Aug-02-2009, 10:21pm
[]


But much non-western music is based on the pentatonic scale too.



I knew that some non-western music uses the pentatonic scale, but I wasn't aware how ubiquitous it was. So there you go - further indications that there is something hardwired in us about pentatonics.

pigpen
Aug-05-2009, 12:40pm
I'm just making up stuff right now, but I wonder if the spiral shape of the cochlea resonates similarly to the pentatonic scale. If the Fibonacci Sequence repeats itself so often in nature, maybe the snail-like spirals are on a resonance pattern similar to 1,3,5, etc...

Here's a picture. The cochlea is the part of the inner ear that looks like a snail shell and has hairs suspended in a jelly that translates the motions of the eardrum to neural stimulations. Could blowing into the cochlea make resonances at the pentatonic scale? I know that with trombones (the only wind instrument that I played), w/ the slide all the way up, the natural notes played are Bb, F, D, and Eb (all part of the Bb pentatonic).

I really don't know too much, but it seems like it isn't entirely coincidental.

Mike Bromley
Aug-05-2009, 1:46pm
If the Pentatonic Scale is hard wired into our brains, maybe there is still hope for suburbanites who want to play the blues!

I guess Rap constitutes some kind of short circuit.....

farmerjones
Aug-05-2009, 2:34pm
I blame it on Rodgers & Hammerstein, and Jully Andrews:
"Doe, a deer. A female deer. Ray. A drop of golden Sun. etc. etc. "

Sound of Music was released in 1965. 3.3 billion people in the world at the time. Global population has since doubled to around 6.6 billion people as of 2008. My theory poses the 3.3 billion born since plus the 3.3 billion alive at the time of release have all seen the movie or heard the song at least once. I think it quite plausable. Even cultures with odd musical scales still have radio and movies since the 20's. Primative cultures may not, but still represent the smallest part of global population.

:popcorn: Fun to think about

Either way, Bobby McFerrin is a clever fellow. He made the last PBS special great.

groveland
Aug-05-2009, 4:25pm
I blame it on Rodgers & Hammerstein, and Jully Andrews:
"Doe, a deer. A female deer. Ray. A drop of golden Sun. etc. etc. "

That would certainly teach the major scale.