I once experienced Bobby McFerrin live in concert. He performed with a group of ten men and women who each used their voice as an instrument in the orchestra. All the music was improvised in the moment. The concert started with a single spotlight on Bobby as patted his heart making a tone reverberate in his chest. It was a wondrous experience to watch someone using their whole body (literally and figuratively) to make music and to inspire.
In the video on ted.com, Bobby McFerrin uses the pentatonic scale to demonstrate musically how we anticipate or create expectations. In my words, it might be how we co-create with the music that sings in all of us. As the scientists look on, he demonstrates with childlike simplicity the magic in imagination.
The pentatonic scale is made up of five tones or notes, the prefix ‘penta’ is a Latin term for five: i.e. pentagram, Pentagon, pentagonal – tonic to the word ‘tone’. The fives notes, A B D E G, go very well together. You can just play around and never hit anything inordinately dissonant, unlike a piano which is made up of octaves. It is believed to be very ancient and is still found all over the world, in Celtic music, West African music, African-American spirituals, children’s songs (particularly in Waldorf Early Childhood) American folk music, and many others including the Great Highland Bagpipe.
For a writing exercise, watch Bobby McFerrin as you would a “flower, stone or a bird”. Then write a few word associations and begin writing stream of consciousness. I will do it too and will post mine and responses you would like to send to me.
You can go to http://www.pbs.org/parents/creativity/ideas/pentatonic.html to actually play music (an electronic version) on a pentatonic scale.