Jimmy Fallon Does Morphological Synthesis

JimmyFallonI’ll admit it—Jimmy Fallon is bad for my sleep cycle. My late-night theatrical husband returns home right about Fallon-time and the temptation to watch just for a while….well, let’s just say I sometimes succumb.

Recently, while watching Fallon’s “Wheel of Musical Impressions” with Adam Levine, I realized I was seeing a unique—and very funny—use of morphological synthesis. Remember that morphological synthesis (or morphological combination) is a creative thinking strategy in which options for two characteristics are listed on the axis of a grid and combined to create new possibilities. A morphological synthesis grid for a teen’s back-to-school outfits could list all possible pants and skirts on one axis and tops on the other. Looking at the combinations might suggest using available clothing in a new way.

Fallon used a wheel rather than a grid, but the principle was the same. A list of musicians was combined with a list of songs to create impression challenges, for example, Michael Jackson singing the theme to Sesame Street. Take a listen.

With the exception of one reference (to getting drunk in Old MacDonald’s barn) that is easily avoided if you stop before 3:30 , the video is school-appropriate. Think about how it might be used to teach morphological synthesis—or to suggest an assignment for music class. Sesame Street as written by Hayden? Hip hop Old MacDonald? If you try it, please share!

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