TEDTalks Music

TEDTalks Music


Some of the world's greatest musicians and researchers showcase the power and science of music onstage at the TED conference, TEDx events and partner events around the world. You can also download these and many other videos free on TED.com, with an interactive English transcript and subtitles in up to 80 languages. TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.


A beatboxing lesson from a father-daughter duo | Nicole Paris and Ed Cage  

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.

A musical escape into a world of light and color | Kaki King  

A genre unto herself, Kaki King fuses the ancient tradition of working with one's hands with digital technology, projection-mapping imagery onto her guitar in her groundbreaking multimedia work "The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body." Using her guitar's neck like a keyboard, she plays an intricate melody as she takes the audience on a musical journey of light and sound. She calls it "guitar as paintbrush."

The enchanting music of sign language | Christine Sun Kim  

Artist and TED Fellow Christine Sun Kim was born deaf, and she was taught to believe that sound wasn't a part of her life, that it was a hearing person's thing. Through her art, she discovered similarities between American Sign Language and music, and she realized that sound doesn't have to be known solely through the ears -- it can be felt, seen and experienced as an idea. In this endearing talk, she invites us to open our eyes and ears and participate in the rich treasure of visual language.

The unexpected beauty of everyday sounds | Meklit Hadero  

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."

Home is a song I've always remembered | Teitur  

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.

An 11-year-old prodigy performs old-school jazz  | Joey Alexander  

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.

A moving song from women in prison for life | The Lady Lifers  

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 hope of parole. (Note: The prison's Office of Victim Advocacy has ensured that victims were treated fairly and respectfully around this TEDx event.)

Hidden music rituals around the world | Vincent Moon  

Vincent Moon travels the world with a backpack and a camera, filming astonishing music and ritual the world rarely sees -- from a powerful Sufi ritual in Chechnya to an ayahuasca journey in Peru. He hopes his films can help people see their own cultures in a new way, to make young people say: "Whoa, my grandfather is as cool as Beyoncé." Followed by a mesmerizing performance by jazz icon Naná Vasconcelos.

Why I take the piano on the road … and in the air | Daria van den Bercken  

Pianist Daria van den Bercken fell in love with the baroque keyboard music of George Frideric Handel. Now, she aims to ignite this passion in others. In this talk, she plays us through the emotional roller coaster of his music — while sailing with her piano through the air, driving it down the street, and of course playing on the stage.

The DIY orchestra of the future | Ge Wang  

Ge Wang makes computer music, but it isn’t all about coded bleeps and blips. With the Stanford Laptop Orchestra, he creates new instruments out of unexpected materials—like an Ikea bowl—that allow musicians to play music that’s both beautiful and expressive.

How I started writing songs again | Sting  

Sting’s early life was dominated by a shipyard—and he dreamed of nothing more than escaping the industrial drudgery. But after a nasty bout of writer’s block that stretched on for years, Sting found himself channeling the stories of the shipyard workers he knew in his youth for song material. In a lyrical, confessional talk, Sting treats us to songs from his upcoming musical, and to an encore of “Message in a Bottle.”

How sampling transformed music | Mark Ronson  

Sampling isn't about "hijacking nostalgia wholesale," says Mark Ronson. It's about inserting yourself into the narrative of a song while also pushing that story forward. In this mind-blowingly original talk, watch the DJ scramble 15 TED Talks into an audio-visual omelette, and trace the evolution of "La Di Da Di," Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick's 1984 hit that has been reimagined for every generation since.

A-rhythm-etic. The math behind the beats | Clayton Cameron  

Ready to dance in your seat? Drummer Clayton Cameron breaks down different genres of music—from R&B to Latin to pop—by their beats. A talk that proves hip hop and jazz aren't cooler than math—they simply rely on it.

To hear this music you have to be there. Literally | Ryan Holladay  

The music industry has sometimes struggled to find its feet in the digital world. In this lovely talk, TED Fellow Ryan Holladay tells us why he is experimenting with what he describes as "location-aware music." This programming and musical feat involves hundreds of geotagged segments of sounds that only play when a listener is physically nearby. (Filmed at TED@BCG.)

In the key of genius | Adam Ockelford  

Born three and a half months prematurely, Derek Paravicini is blind and has severe autism. But with perfect pitch, innate talent and a lot of practice, he became an acclaimed concert pianist by the age of 10. Here, his longtime piano teacher, Adam Ockelford, explains his student’s unique relationship to music, while Paravicini shows how he has ripped up the "Chopsticks" rule book. (Filmed at TEDxWarwick.)

The polyphonic me | Beardyman  

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, that's a lot of different sounds. Sit back and let the wall of sound of this dazzling performance wash over you.

The orchestra in my mouth | Tom Thum  

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.

The violin, and my dark night of the soul | Ji-Hae Park  

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.

"True Colors" | John Legend  

In a heart-melting moment, TED Talks Education host John Legend sits at the piano to sing "True Colors," giving the lyrics a special meaning for kids and teachers. "So don't be afraid / to let them show / your true colors / are beautiful, like a rainbow."

Virtual Choir Live | Eric Whitacre  

Composer and conductor Eric Whitacre has inspired millions by bringing together "virtual choirs," singers from many countries spliced together on video. Now, for the first time ever, he creates the experience in real time, as 32 singers from around the world Skype in to join an onstage choir (assembled from three local colleges) for an epic performance of Whitacre's "Cloudburst," based on a poem by Octavio Paz.

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