Bobby McFerrin Shows the Power of the Pentatonic Scale

The jazz vocalist and ten-time Grammy winner Bobby McFerrin turns 61 today. To celebrate, we’re posting this clip from the 2009 World Science Festival, in which McFerrin leads an impromptu audience sing-a-long in order to demonstrate the power of the pentatonic scale. We bet you’ve never seen music theory taught quite like this.

McFerrin, by the way, is sharing the stage with several scientists, including Daniel Levitin, McGill professor and author of the book This is Your Brain on Music. If this clip happens to awaken your inner crooner instead of your inner neuroscientist, you can also check out a short singing lesson with McFerrin on Qtv.

Sheerly Avni is a San Francisco-based arts and culture writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, LA Weekly, Variety, Mother Jones, and many other publications. You can follow her on twitter at @sheerly.

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