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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
In this lovely talk, TED Fellow Ryan Holladay shares his experiment with "location-aware music." This programming and musical feat involves hundreds of geotagged segments of sounds that only play when a listener is physically nearby, creating a magical sense of presence.
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 a 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" rulebook.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There's a place in France where the robots do a dance. And that place is TEDxConcorde, where Bruno Maisonnier of Aldebaran Robotics choreographs a troupe of tiny humanoid Nao robots through a surprisingly emotive performance.
When Robert Gupta was caught between a career as a doctor and as a violinist, he realized his place was in the middle, with a bow in his hand and a sense of social justice in his heart. He tells a moving story of society’s marginalized and the power of music therapy, which can succeed where conventional medicine fails.
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.
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.
Usman Riaz is a 21-year-old whiz at the percussive guitar, a style he learned to play by watching his heroes on YouTube. The TED Fellow plays onstage at TEDGlobal 2012 -- followed by a jawdropping solo from the master of percussive guitar, Preston Reed. And watch these two guitarists take on a very spur-of-the-moment improv.
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.
Scott Rickard set out to engineer the ugliest possible piece of music, devoid of repetition, using a mathematical concept known as the Costas Array. In this surprisingly entertaining talk, he shares the math behind musical beauty and its opposite.
There are millions of prodigiously gifted musicians of disability around the world, and Charles Hazlewood is determined to give them a platform. Watch the debut performance of the British Paraorchestra.
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.
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.
Conductor Charles Hazlewood talks about the role of trust in musical leadership -- then shows how it works, as he conducts the Scottish Ensemble onstage. He also shares clips from two musical projects: the opera "U-Carmen eKhayelitsha" and the ParaOrchestra.
Can opera be ever-so-slightly sexy? The glorious soprano Danielle de Niese shows how, singing the flirty "Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiss." Which, translated, means, as you might guess: "I kiss so hot." From Giuditta by Frans Lehár; accompanist: Ingrid Surgenor.
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.
Musician and inventor Onyx Ashanti demonstrates "beatjazz" -- his music created with two handheld controllers, an iPhone and a mouthpiece, and played with the entire body. At TED's Full Spectrum Auditions, after locking in his beats and loops, he plays a 3-minute song that shares his vision for the future of music.
It's a master class in collaboration as violinist Robert Gupta and cellist Joshua Roman perform Halvorsen's "Passacaglia" for violin and viola. Roman takes the viola part on his Stradivarius cello. It's powerful to watch the two musicians connect moment to moment (and recover from a mid-performance hiccup). The two are both TED Fellows, and their deep connection powers this sparkling duet.
Jackson Browne plays a song about being on the ocean or really, being anywhere among passionate friends. (He started writing this song aboard Mission Blue Voyage, a Sylvia Earle-inspired conference about saving the ocean.) "If I could be anywhere," he sings, "anywhere right now, I would be here.
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 premiered a few weeks later (yes, on YouTube!).
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 intriguing modern song "Aria," by John Cage.
The three Ahn sisters (cellist Maria, pianist Lucia, violinist Angella) breathe new life into the piano trio with their passionate musicmaking. At TEDWomen, they start with the bright and poppy "Skylife," by David Balakrishnan, then play a gorgeous, slinky version of "Oblivion," by Astor Piazzolla.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 the YouTube sensation "This Too Shall Pass.