In Praise of Bobby McFerrin

There’s more to Bobby McFerrin than that inane pop tune Don’t Worry, Be Happy, although I have to be careful how much thought I give to that song. I suspect that it still helps him to pay the bills, but I don’t want to end up with it stuck in my head for the next 36 hours.

And there’s more to him than the wonderful a cappella reimagining of the
23rd Psalm that a group of my friends and I sang in church yesterday.

The guy is a genius about the way music works. Check him out here, using his audience as an instrument and “playing” them amazingly.

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

I’ve watched this video again and again. The more I watch, the more amazed I become at how little direction the audience actually gets. It seems to be that this is stuff we, as human beings, just know. Bobby McFerrin is the guy who noticed that simple, compelling fact.

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