Friday, September 10, 2010

Just When I Thought There Was Nothing Left To Write About... Along Comes Bobby McFerrin

I have a number of instruments made on the Pentatonic Scale.  Without going into too much detail; most of us are familiar with the Chromatic Scale.  The Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do Scale.  Most songs are written in that scale because of it's broad versatility.

The Pentatonic Scale, while in some ways more restrictive, is, in another very important way more liberating.  You see, in the Pentatonic scale, there are no sour notes.  Every note is in complete harmony with every other note on the scale.  I have a simple xylophone built on the Pentatonic Scale which I love to play.  It is called a Wing and can be found on line.  I love to finish a day playing it.  I make up the music as I go because, remember there are no sour notes.  It is so soothing and meditative to quietly make music with no conscious thought.  I've even been known to sleep while I'm still striking the keys.  There are two mallets, so you may also strike two keys at a time, guaranteed that any two keys on the instrument will harmonize beautifully.

Most Native American Flutes are also built to be played on the Pentatonic Scale.  I have several in a number of keys.  These are my favorite for meditation and winding down after a busy day.  A well made Indian Flute is easy to play and well worth owning.  Even a novice can play on the first day.  Again, because there are no sour notes.  Obviously, the sky is the limit on how well and beautifully they can be played.  You need to remember that you can't play Yankee Doodle Dandy or She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain in the Pentatonic Scale.  Almost all popular music is written in the Chromatic Scale.  Still, music of your own, random creation can lift and inspire you and can be unique as you are.

So, what has all this to do with Bobby McFerrin?  Watch this little video and see for yourself!

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

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