Grammy Award Winner Bobby McFerrin: Tech Is Making Us 'Impatient' Listeners
Ten-time Grammy Award winner Bobby McFerrin is a renowned musician, singer, and conductor who has collaborated with music greats such as Yo-Yo Ma, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock. He has also performed at orchestras including the Chicago Symphony, Vienna Philharmonic, and New York Philharmonic. McFerrin was one of the speakers that took the stage at the 2011 TED conference in Long Beach, California. HuffPost Tech editor Bianca Bosker caught up with McFerrin after his performance.
HP: How is technology changing the way we listen to music?
BM: "I think we're losing our patience with listening. I know that when I'm listening on my iPod, I do a lot of searching--I'll play twelve bars of a piece then say, 'no, I don't want to listen to that,' then I go on to something else."
"When I was a kid growing up and we bought albums, we treated them with such reverence, we would listen to every single cut, first to last, whether we liked the pieces or not, we were patient enough to at least give the [pieces] a chance. I'm finding that in today's technological world we've become more and more impatient, and that we don't take time to let things soak or steep."
What inspires your music?
"I like the mystery of creativity, not kowing where I'm going, or what's going to happen when I get to wherever I'm going--that to me is incredibly beautiful. I grew up in a musical family and I learned all the theory of music. I went to music school, I was a composition major, I wrote everything down on the page, and now I'm doing the complete opposite--I'm simply walking on stage with wonder, wondering what's going to come out."
What artists inspire you?
"When I was very young, when I was about ten, eleven, twelve years-old, my biggest influences then were Fred Astair, Bach. When I got a little older, Picasso and Charlie Chaplin."
"I found Fred Astaire's dancing just so full of joy, that's what struck me the most. And then Bach is so mathematically generated. So we have freedom, we have form, we have discipline, we have mystery, we have curiosity, we have experimentation...Those four individuals, I got a lot out of them."
Is there a new artist today you find inspiring?
"I haven't heard anyone that I've found really genuine and I'm looking for that."
Do you use Twitter? Facebook?
I don't do any of that. I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything.
And what do you think of these technologies?
"I always marvel that people are willing to share intimate secrets with people they barely even know. I keep my opinions to myself, they're mine. I don't feel like I need to share everything with other people. That's one thing about technology--we almost feel like we're obligated to talk about ourselves. Why? I don't understand."
"[It's almost as though] if you're not talking about yourself, you're not being honest...I just don't want to because I don't think it's important. People can be thinking about other things a lot more important than me."