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Every culture everywhere he has been, people seem to simply get it. They get the pentatonic scale. It doesn’t have to be taught. This is a fun example of what makes neuro scientists tingle all over.

See for yourself:

One Response to “Bobby McFerrin’s insight into music”

  1. on 09 Aug 2009 at 7:23 pmKrystal

    That’s interesting that people across different musical cultures seem to get the pentatonic scale intuitively. While the octave is universal across all cultures (an octave being two notes whose frequencies have a ratio of 2:1), the intervals into which the octave is divided is not.

    In western music culture, we divide the octave into 12 equidistant portions, and designate 7 of those as the primary notes in a major scale, using the remaining 5 as “accidentals”.

    However, in other cultures the octave is divided differently–sometimes 5 intervals, sometimes 7, etc–and are not always equidistant/symmetrical. To the western ear, music made using these scales often sounds discordant, or out of tune, but it is exactly how they’re meant to be.

    However these differing interval patterns are often only found in traditional folk music. Perhaps it the world-wide exposure to Western pop music?

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