Discovered a remix of “Circle Song 6” by Bobby McFerrin this week, after swimming in Sunday’s Youtube waters decided to listen to original. Then got auto-played this 52 minute long performance from Budapest in 2018, which I did not intend to watch all. But… I couldn’t stop. And it’s not the first time, so with this post I wanted for once pay my deep respects for this artist and his contributions to world, which span beyond music in my understanding.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Everyone knows his 1988 classic in the title. In case you took it for granted, listen to lyrics next time you feel down. And in case you missed it: it’s built on his vocals only. No instrumentals.
In the era of personal development eating material, TED talks I came across his “presentation” in conference. This was a trampoline to seek Bobby’s performances.
Drive & Ave Maria
Back then there’s were no online audio cutters, and there wasn’t a clean Ave Maria recording, only Drive settled to playlist, although Ave Maria still amazes me to this day.
And Drive was an exemplary voice control exhibit…
Since ~2010 I’ve been returning to his voice each 1-2 years to discover his new performances, interviews…
Improvisation with Richard Bona
Just beautiful energy here.
Playing the Stadium
First time I heard this, got jaw dropped and tears collected. Asked my self why and what is he actually doing?
Unfortunately I don’t yet have musical education, but comments sometimes confirm the intuitions:
wow he modulated the crowd from E minor to D minor without them even noticing…. that’s crazy
One of the tally interesting things about Bobby is that he takes influences from so many different musical genres and cultures across the world, and puts them together in his improv. You can hear traditionally Indian and East Asian sounds in his melodies, as well as several African styles of harmony and body percussion, mixed together with a knowledge of classical and contemporary European musical theory. It’s absolutely masterful
It just so happened that I was part of the event. It was one of the most impressive singing experiences of my life, singing opera choruses with 54,000 singers and symphony orchestra, and then to improvise with Bobby McFerrin. Just to illustrate how difficult it was to bring the huge choir together: because of the size of the stadium, the sound took about one second from one end of the choir to the other. Not easy to improvise rhythmically under these circumstances. His improvisations where much more differentiated when I sang with him later in Zurich in a small group.
Ego-less Master of Music
If you ask, answers eventually come. You probably have seen musicians getting into flow doing their art?
Here’s Gustavo Santaolalla:
Here’s member of orchestra performing famous Diverie.
Mcferrin never gets lost. Why? Doesn’t he love music? I concluded: he’s playing in next league. People master instruments, Bobby mastered music.
He probably spent so many hours with him self practicing on his voice he can’t possibly surprise him self anymore. He’s been doing this for like 50 years… I assume he discovered a deeper meaning of music -it’s merely a vessel to communicate love. He does’t play instruments, he plays people. His passion is passing the passing and lighting up the insides of people in participation.
I have participated in Church Chorus at some point, but for a video game addict at a time this can only resonate so much. Since then I have only observed few singing acappella circles. Close friends with deeper experience in circle singing have reported an extraordinary feeling. Empowerment? Community? Resonance. I could image this having roots very deep in our DNA since our tribal ancestors were vocal-tripping themselves.
Sounds, not Words
Bobby rarely drifts into words. Usually he uses abstract sounds. Words have national identity and nationality is one of the socially and culturally erected borders, that block the propagation of love. He understands that. Altough being a rock-star level celebrity also didn’t get his soul corrupted. Jeans, T-shirt… Another artist I admire said:
Bobby McFerrin on Music, Spirituality
Finally, couple of years back I found this interview. I can’t recommend this enough. It will leave you better human.
You might remember this quote I shared. It’s from this interview.
Thank you for the message, Bobby. Someone said this. Ditto.
I’m so happy i can say that a music genius lived in my generation