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Reggie Watts disorients you in the most entertaining way
Reggie Watts’ beats defy boxes. Unplug your logic board and watch as he blends poetry and crosses musical genres in this larger-than-life performance.
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The art of asking
Don't make people pay for music, says Amanda Palmer: Let them. In a passionate talk that begins in her days as a street performer (drop a dollar in the hat for the Eight-Foot Bride!), she examines the new relationship between artist and fan.
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The orchestra in my mouth
In a highly entertaining performance, beatboxer Tom Thum slings beats, comedy and a mouthful of instrumental impersonations into 11 minutes of creativity and fun that will make you smile. (Filmed at TEDxSydney.)
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Thoughts on humanity, fame and love
"I sell dreams, and I peddle love to millions of people," says Shah Rukh Khan, Bollywood's biggest star. In this charming, funny talk, Khan traces the arc of his life, showcases a few of his famous dance moves and shares hard-earned wisdom from a life spent in the spotlight.
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The mad scientist of music
Mark Applebaum writes music that breaks the rules in fantastic ways, composing a concerto for a florist and crafting a musical instrument from junk and found objects. This quirky talk might just inspire you to shake up the “rules” of your own creative work. (Filmed at TEDxStanford.)
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Benjamin Zander on music and passion
Benjamin Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it -- and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections.
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How to truly listen
In this soaring demonstration, deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie illustrates how listening to music involves much more than simply letting sound waves hit your eardrums.
The magic of truth and lies (and iPods)
Using three iPods like magical props, Marco Tempest spins a clever, surprisingly heartfelt meditation on truth and lies, art and emotion.
The $8 billion iPod
Comic author Rob Reid unveils Copyright Math (TM), a remarkable new field of study based on actual numbers from entertainment industry lawyers and lobbyists.
The polyphonic me
Frustrated by not being able to sing two notes at the same time, musical inventor Beardyman built a machine to allow him to create loops and layers from just the sounds he makes with his voice. Given that he can effortlessly conjure the sound of everything from crying babies to buzzing flies, not to mention mimic pretty much any musical instrument imaginable,
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The violin, and my dark night of the soul
In her quest to become a world-famous violinist, Ji-Hae Park fell into a severe depression. Only music was able to lift her out again -- showing her that her goal needn’t be to play lofty concert halls, but instead to bring the wonder of the instrument to as many people as possible.
A virtual choir 2,000 voices strong
In a moving and madly viral video last year, composer Eric Whitacre led a virtual choir of singers from around the world. He talks through the creative challenges of making music powered by YouTube, and unveils the first 2 minutes of his new work, "Sleep," with a video choir of 2,052. The full piece premieres April 7 (yes, on YouTube!).
MacMaster + Leahy play the fiddle
Natalie MacMaster and her musical partner Donnell Leahy play several tunes from the Cape Breton tradition -- a sprightly, soulful style of folk fiddling. It's an inspired collaboration that will have you clapping (and maybe dancing) along.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on flow
Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi asks, "What makes a life worth living?" Noting that money cannot make us happy, he looks to those who find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about a state of "flow."
An 11-year-old prodigy performs old-school jazz
Raised listening to his dad's old records, Joey Alexander plays a brand of sharp, modern piano jazz that you likely wouldn't expect to hear from a pre-teenager. Listen as the 11-year-old delights the TED crowd with his very special performance of a Thelonious Monk classic.
I listen to color
Artist Neil Harbisson was born completely color blind, but these days a device attached to his head turns color into audible frequencies. Instead of seeing a world in grayscale, Harbisson can hear a symphony of color -- and yes, even listen to faces and paintings.
Pamelia Kurstin plays the theremin
Virtuoso Pamelia Kurstin performs and discusses her theremin, the not-just-for-sci-fi electronic instrument that is played without being touched. Songs include "Autumn Leaves," "Lush Life" and David Mash’s "Listen, Words Are Gone."
Nellie McKay sings "Mother of Pearl" and "If I Had You"
The wonderful Nellie McKay sings "Mother of Pearl" (with the immortal first line "Feminists don't have a sense of humor") and "If I Had You" from her sparkling set at TED2008.
Andrew Bird's one-man orchestra of the imagination
Musical innovator Andrew Bird winds together his trademark violin technique with xylophone, vocals and sophisticated electronic looping. Add in his uncanny ability to whistle anything, and he becomes a riveting one-man orchestra.
Lead like the great conductors
An orchestra conductor faces the ultimate leadership challenge: creating perfect harmony without saying a word. In this charming talk, Itay Talgam demonstrates the unique styles of six great 20th-century conductors, illustrating crucial lessons for all leaders.
Life at 30,000 feet
Richard Branson talks to TED's Chris Anderson about the ups and the downs of his career, from his multibillionaire success to his multiple near-death experiences -- and reveals some of his (very surprising) motivations.
The 4 ways sound affects us
Playing sound effects both pleasant and awful, Julian Treasure shows how sound affects us in four significant ways. Listen carefully for a shocking fact about noisy open-plan offices.
Music and emotion through time
In this epic overview, Michael Tilson Thomas traces the development of classical music through the development of written notation, the record, and the re-mix.
The music of a war child
For five years, young Emmanuel Jal fought as a child soldier in the Sudan. Rescued by an aid worker, he's become an international hip-hop star and an activist for kids in war zones. In words and lyrics, he tells the story of his amazing life.
Nellie McKay sings "The Dog Song"
Animal fan Nellie McKay sings a sparkling tribute to her dear dog. She suggests we all do the same: "Just go right to the pound/ And find yourself a hound/ And make that doggie proud/ 'cause that's what it's all about."
Natalie Merchant sings old poems to life
Natalie Merchant sings from her new album, Leave Your Sleep. Lyrics from near-forgotten 19th-century poetry pair with her unmistakable voice for a performance that brought the TED audience to its feet.
Hurdy-gurdy for beginners
Caroline Phillips cranks out tunes on a seldom-heard folk instrument: the hurdy-gurdy, a.k.a. the wheel fiddle. A searching, Basque melody follows her fun lesson on its unique anatomy and 1,000-year history.
The unexpected beauty of everyday sounds
Using examples from birdsong, the natural lilt of emphatic language and even a cooking pan lid, singer-songwriter and TED Fellow Meklit Hadero shows how the everyday soundscape, even silence, makes music. "The world is alive with musical expression," she says. "We are already immersed."
Michael Moschen juggles rhythm and motion
Michael Moschen puts on a quietly mesmerizing show of juggling. Don't think juggling is an art? You might just change your mind after watching Moschen in motion.
David Byrne sings "(Nothing But) Flowers"
David Byrne sings the Talking Heads' 1988 hit, "(Nothing But) Flowers." He's accompanied by Thomas Dolby and string quartet Ethel, who made up the TED2010 house band.
Kaki King rocks out to "Pink Noise"
Kaki King, the first female on Rolling Stone's "guitar god" list, rocks out to a full live set at TED2008, including her breakout single, "Playing with Pink Noise." Jaw-dropping virtuosity meets a guitar technique that truly stands out.
There are no mistakes on the bandstand
What is a mistake? By talking through examples with his improvisational Jazz quartet, Stefon Harris walks us to a profound truth: many actions are perceived as mistakes only because we don't react to them appropriately.
Ze Frank's web playroom
On the web, a new "Friend" may be just a click away, but true connection is harder to find and express. Ze Frank presents a medley of zany Internet toys that require deep participation -- and reward it with something more nourishing. You're invited, if you promise you'll share.
Building US-China relations ... by banjo
TED Fellow Abigail Washburn wanted to be a lawyer improving US-China relations -- until she picked up a banjo. She tells a moving story of the remarkable connections she's formed touring across the United States and China while playing that banjo and singing in Chinese.
Shh! Sound health in 8 steps
Julian Treasure says our increasingly noisy world is gnawing away at our mental health -- even costing lives. He lays out an 8-step plan to soften this sonic assault (starting with those cheap earbuds) and restore our relationship with sound.
A dance in a hurricane of paper, wind and light
Choreographer Aakash Odedra is dyslexic and has always felt that his best expression comes through movement. “Murmur” is his ode to that experience, teaming up with co-creators Lewis Major and Ars Electronica Futurelab. Watch him spin his way through the center of a storm, as pages of books take flight all around him.
New York Times columnist David Pogue takes aim at technology’s worst interface-design offenders, and provides encouraging examples of products that get it right. To funny things up, he bursts into song.
The dancer, the singer, the cellist ... and a moment of creative magic
Legendary dance choreographer Bill T. Jones and TED Fellows Joshua Roman and Somi didn't know exactly what was going to happen when they took the stage at TED2015. They just knew they wanted to offer the audience an opportunity to witness creative collaboration in action. The result: An improvised piece they call "The Red Circle and the Blue Curtain," so extraordinary
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Building the musical muscle
Charles Limb performs cochlear implantation, a surgery that treats hearing loss and can restore the ability to hear speech. But as a musician too, Limb thinks about what the implants lack: They don't let you fully experience music yet. (There's a hair-raising example.) At TEDMED, Limb reviews the state of the art and the way forward.
Your brain on improv
Musician and researcher Charles Limb wondered how the brain works during musical improvisation -- so he put jazz musicians and rappers in an fMRI to find out. What he and his team found has deep implications for our understanding of creativity of all kinds.
Singing after a double lung transplant
You'll never sing again, said her doctor. But in a story from the very edge of medical possibility, operatic soprano Charity Tillemann-Dick tells a double story of survival -- of her body, from a double lung transplant, and of her spirit, fueled by an unwavering will to sing. A powerful story from TEDMED 2010.
A moving song from women in prison for life
The ten women in this chorus have all been sentenced to life in prison. They share a moving song about their experiences — one that reveals their hopes, regrets and fears. "I'm not an angel," sings one, "but I'm not the devil." Filmed at an independent TEDx event inside Muncy State Prison, it's a rare and poignant look inside the world of people imprisoned with no
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Home is a song I've always remembered
For musician Teitur, singing is about giving away a piece of yourself to others. "If your intentions are to impress people or to get the big applause at the end," he says, "then you are taking, not giving." Listen as he plays on stage at TED2015, offering two songs about love, distance and home.
Tod Machover and Dan Ellsey play new music
Tod Machover of MIT's Media Lab is devoted to extending musical expression to everyone, from virtuosos to amateurs, and in the most diverse forms, from opera to video games. He and composer Dan Ellsey shed light on what's next.
Raul Midon plays "Tembererana"
Singer/guitarist Raúl Midón performs “All the Answers” in a world premiere at TED2007, followed by the sprightly "Tembererana."
New ways to see music (with color! and fire!)
Designer Jared Ficklin creates wild visualizations that let us see music, using color and even fire (a first for the TED stage) to analyze how sound makes us feel. He takes a brief digression to analyze the sound of a skatepark -- and how audio can clue us in to developing creativity.
Brewster Kahle builds a free digital library
Brewster Kahle is building a truly huge digital library -- every book ever published, every movie ever released, all the strata of web history ... It's all free to the public -- unless someone else gets to it first.
Raul Midon plays "Peace on Earth"
Guitarist and singer Raul Midon plays "Everybody" and "Peace on Earth" during his 2007 set at TED.
Eddi Reader on "What You've Got"
Singer/songwriter Eddi Reader performs "What You Do With What You've Got," a meditation on a very TED theme: how to use your gifts and talents to make a difference. With Thomas Dolby on piano.
Bruno Bowden folds while Rufus Cappadocia plays
After Robert Lang's talk on origami at TED2008, Bruno Bowden stepped onstage with a challenge -- he would fold one of Lang's astonishingly complicated origami figures, blindfolded, in under 2 minutes. He's accompanied by the cellist Rufus Cappadocia.
Peter Gabriel fights injustice with video
Musician and activist Peter Gabriel shares his very personal motivation for standing up for human rights with the watchdog group WITNESS -- and tells stories of citizen journalists in action.
Singing the primal mystery
"The human voice: mysterious, spontaneous, primal." With these words, soprano Claron McFadden invites us to explore the mysteries of breathing and singing, as she performs the challenging "Aria," by John Cage.
Morley sings "Women of Hope"
Inspired by Aung San Suu Kyi’s call to action, “If you’re feeling helpless, help someone,” Morley composed this song. She sings it at TEDxWomen in her gorgeous, warm voice.
David Pogue on the music wars
New York Times tech columnist David Pogue performs a satirical mini-medley about iTunes and the downloading wars, borrowing a few notes from Sonny and Cher and the Village People.
Dolby + Garniez play "La Vie en Rose"
Featuring the vocals and mischievous bell-playing of accordionist and singer Rachelle Garniez, the TED House Band -- led by Thomas Dolby on keyboard -- delivers this delightful rendition of the Edith Piaf standard "La Vie en Rose."
Stew says "Black Men Ski"
What happens when a black man visits Aspen? Singer/songwriter Stew and his band are about to let you know.
"If I Could Be Anywhere"
At TEDxGPGP, Jackson Browne plays a song he started writing last April aboard Mission Blue Voyage, the Sylvia Earle-inspired trip to brainstorm ways to save the ocean. "If I could be anywhere," he sings, "anywhere right now, I would be here."
Maya Beiser(s) and her cello(s)
Cellist Maya Beiser plays a gorgeous eight-part modern etude with seven copies of herself, and segues into a meditative music/video hybrid -- using tech to create endless possibilities for transformative sound. Music is Steve Reich's "Cello Counterpoint," with video from Bill Morrison, then David Lang's "World to Come," with video by Irit Batsry.
Eddi Reader sings "Kiteflyer's Hill"
Singer/songwriter Eddi Reader performs "Kiteflyer's Hill," a tender look back at a lost love. With Thomas Dolby on piano.
John Walker re-creates great performances
Imagine hearing great, departed pianists play again today, just as they would in person. John Q. Walker demonstrates how recordings can be analyzed for precise keystrokes and pedal motions, then played back on computer-controlled grand pianos.
Golan Levin on software (as) art
Engineer and artist Golan Levin pushes the boundaries of what’s possible with audiovisuals and technology. In an amazing TED display, he shows two programs he wrote to perform his original compositions.
Jakob Trollback rethinks the music video
What would a music video look like if it were directed by the music, purely as an expression of a great song, rather than driven by a filmmaker's concept? Designer Jakob Trollback shares the results of his experiment in the form.
Nora York sings "What I Want"
Nora York gives a stunning performance of her song "What I Want," with Jamie Lawrence (keyboards), Steve Tarshis (guitar) and Arthur Kell (bass).
A beatboxing lesson from a father-daughter duo
Nicole Paris was raised to be a beatboxer — when she was young, her father, Ed Cage, used to beatbox her to sleep at night. Now the duo is known for their beatbox battles and jam sessions, which mix classic rap beats with electronic dance sounds. Prepare yourself for a bit of a hip-hop history lesson, and enjoy the show.
Math is the hidden secret to understanding the world
Unlock the mysteries and inner workings of the world through one of the most imaginative art forms ever — mathematics — with Roger Antonsen, as he explains how a slight change in perspective can reveal patterns, numbers and formulas as the gateways to empathy and understanding.
Adam Sadowsky engineers a viral music video
The band "OK Go" dreamed up the idea of a massive Rube Goldberg machine for their next music video -- and Adam Sadowsky's team was charged with building it. He tells the story of the effort and engineering behind their labyrinthine creation that quickly became a YouTube sensation.
John Legend is on a mission to transform America's criminal justice system. Through his Free America campaign, he's encouraging rehabilitation and healing in our prisons, jails and detention centers — and giving hope to those who want to create a better life after serving their time. With a spoken-word prelude from James Cavitt, an inmate at San Quentin State Prison,
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How frustration can make us more creative
Challenges and problems can derail your creative process ... or they can make you more creative than ever. In the surprising story behind the best-selling solo piano album of all time, Tim Harford may just convince you of the advantages of having to work with a little mess.
Singer, songwriter and actress Sara Ramirez is a woman of many talents. Joined by Michael Pemberton on guitar, Ramirez sings of opportunity, wisdom and the highs and lows of life in this live performance of her song, "Rollercoaster."
James Geary, metaphorically speaking
Aphorism enthusiast and author James Geary waxes on a fascinating fixture of human language: the metaphor. Friend of scribes from Aristotle to Elvis, metaphor can subtly influence the decisions we make, Geary says.
Everything you hear on film is a lie
Sound design is built on deception — when you watch a movie or TV show, nearly all of the sounds you hear are fake. In this audio-rich talk, Tasos Frantzolas explores the role of sound in storytelling and demonstrates just how easily our brains are fooled by what we hear.
Ananda Shankar Jayant fights cancer with dance
Renowned classical Indian dancer Ananda Shankar Jayant was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. She tells her personal story of not only facing the disease but dancing through it, and gives a performance revealing the metaphor of strength that helped her do it.
"St. James Infirmary Blues"
Singer Rhiannon Giddens joins international music collective Silk Road Ensemble to perform "St. James Infirmary Blues," spiking the American folk song that Louis Armstrong popularized in the 1920s with Romani influence and mischievous energy.
How architecture helped music evolve
As his career grew, David Byrne went from playing CBGB to Carnegie Hall. He asks: Does the venue make the music? From outdoor drumming to Wagnerian operas to arena rock, he explores how context has pushed musical innovation.
Singer Amanda Palmer pays tribute to the inimitable David Bowie with a cover of "Space Oddity." She's joined onstage by Jherek Bischoff, TED Fellow Usman Riaz and, no, your eyes are not deceiving you, none other than former Vice President Al Gore.
An electrifying acoustic guitar performance
Guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela combine furiously fast riffs and dazzling rhythms to create a style that draws on both flamenco guitar and heavy metal in this live performance of their song, "The Soundmaker."
The El Sistema music revolution
Jose Antonio Abreu is the charismatic founder of a youth orchestra system that has transformed thousands of kids' lives in Venezuela. Here he shares his amazing story and unveils a TED Prize wish that could have a big impact in the US and beyond.
Pop culture in the Arab world
At TEDGlobal University, Shereen El Feki shows how some Arab cultures are borrowing trademarks of Western pop culture -- music videos, comics, even Barbie -- and adding a culturally appropriate twist. The hybridized media shows how two civilizations, rather than dividing, can dovetail.