What are Circle Songs?

Rather then try to explain what are circle songs, have a look at this video “Bobby McFerrin Spontaneous Chorus.”

This performance is like a collection of  circle songs. Bobby McFerrin sings a little repeated melody (an ostinato) and hands it over to a group of singers. Then he creates another melody/ostinato and hands it to the next group of singers, and so on, all the while he may also be soloing (making up a melody) on top of the groove the singers are keeping. By the way, all the singers are most likely not a rehearsed chorus but just audience members who just volunteered to go up on stage.

The approach to circle songs at MusiCamp is not that much different than what you saw in the video. Of course, we won’t be on stage and we’ll start off with very simple melodic patterns and some rhythmic ones as well. And depending on the group, the circle songs can develop musically from there. The wonderful thing is you don’t need to be an amazing singer to create this collective, groovy fun music. Also, campers who wish to explore their soloing abilities will be given that opportunity. Whether they want to scat, howl , make rhythmic noises, or invent a language – the groove set up by the rest of the group gives them an opportunity to explore solo expression in a safe and supported environment. I’m really looking forward to this!

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