CircleSongs

What is a CircleSong?

The term CircleSong was coined by the innovative, improvisational singer Bobby McFerrin as a way to explain his process of community singing, a tradition of several indigenous cultures around the world. Singers stand in a circle with one person (aka the “conductor” and “composer”) in the middle who leads the singers in a song, introducing different motifs or musical phrases to each singing section. This person can then sing a solo in the middle of the circle and/or invite others into the circle to sing solos. CircleSongs are all spontaneous and improvised, meaning they are not rehearsed or planned ahead of time. They are born out of in-the-moment inspiration and imagination.

CircleSongs provide rich opportunities to:

  • Express yourself creatively
  • Break down social barriers (language, culture, etc.)
  • Strengthen connection to yourself
  • Foster cooperation, teamwork, and community
  • Support yourself and others in creative, uninhibited expression
  • Promote self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment

About Krylyn’s CircleSong Journey

I wrote my first song at age 8 and by age 14 was composing fully arranged songs. Songwriting became my “drug of choice” as a teenager and has been a significant form of self discovery, self expression, self care, and FUN for me ever since.

In the 1980’s, I stumbled upon the most unique vocalist I’d ever heard – Bobby McFerrin – who used his voice (and body) as an instrument. His vocal ability left me in awe and inspired me to begin a journey of more creativity and improvisation in my own songwriting. Watch a video of one of the first songs I heard him perform…

Once I heard samples of his CircleSongs (listen to one of my favorites below), I fell more in love with improvisational songwriting. And once I found out he was teaching his CircleSong method to others, I was determined to be a part of it.

Krylyn and Bobby McFerrin September 2011

In August 2011, I traveled to New York, braving Hurricane Irene, tropical storms, and flooding, to study improvisational singing techniques with the great Bobby McFerrin and his team of faculty from around the country: Joey Blake, Judi Donaghy, Christiane Karam, Rhiannon, and David Worm. With Bobby’s blessing, I am committed to bringing the CircleSong process to my local community. Here are two CircleSongs I got to lead while studying in New York.

CircleSongs Phoenix

Here are some CircleSong Phoenix links: