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.
In a breathtaking, jazz-inflected spoken-word performance, TED Fellow Marc Bamuthi Joseph shares a Black father's tender and wrenching internal reflection on the pride and terror of seeing his son enter adulthood.
In a mesmerizing set, musician Nora Brown breathes new life into two old-time banjo tunes: "East Virginia" and "John Brown's Dream." An evocative performance paired with a quick history of the banjo's evolution.
Esha Alwani began writing songs when she was six years old, shortly after being diagnosed with Tourette syndrome. And she noticed something amazing: whenever she played music, her involuntary tics suddenly went away. Listen along as Alwani explores the power of music and delights the audience with an ethereal performance of her piano ballad "I'm Not Loving You (My Mask)."
Viral beatboxer Tom Thum has an orchestra in his mouth, but how does he make all those sounds? Get an up-close-and-personal look as laryngeal surgeon Matthew Broadhurst sticks a camera down Thum's throat while he creates a mind-boggling array of noises. This hilarious, somewhat stomach-churning talk and performance is not for the squeamish! (Contains graphic medical imagery)
Singing in Spanish, Portuguese and English, LADAMA brings a vibrant, energizing and utterly danceable musical set to the TED stage. In between performances of their songs "Night Traveler" and "Porro Maracatu," they discuss how cross-cultural musical collaboration can empower communities.
"Music is so much more than sound simply traveling through the ear," says sign language interpreter Amber Galloway-Gallego. In a spirited performance, musician and activist Madame Gandhi plays two songs -- "Top Knot Turn Up" and "Bad Habits" -- while Galloway-Gallego provides an animated sign language interpretation.
Multidisciplinary artist and TED Fellow Paul Rucker has developed his own style of cello; he puts chopsticks between his strings, uses the instrument as a drum and experiments with electronics like loop pedals. Moving between reflective storytelling and performance, Rucker shares his inspiration -- and definitely doesn't play the same old Bach.
A Tribe Called Red creates music that acts as a gateway into urban, contemporary indigenous culture, celebrating all of its layers and complexity. In a set that blends traditional powwow drums and vocals with hip-hop and electronic music, the DJ collective tells stories of the First Nations in beats and images -- expanding on the concept of the "Halluci Nation," inspired by the poet, musician and activist John Trudell.
Is outer space really the silent and lifeless place it's often depicted to be? Perhaps not. Astrophysicist and musician Matt Russo takes us on a journey through the cosmos, revealing the hidden rhythms and harmonies of planetary orbits. The universe is full of music, he says -- we just need to learn how to hear it.
Luke Sital-Singh sings songs of love, longing and grief in this stirring performance of "Afterneath" and "Killing Me." "These are the songs I just never tire of hearing and I never tire of writing, because they make me feel less alone," Sital-Singh says.
Live and direct from New Orleans, The Soul Rebels rock the TED stage with a tight, energetic performance blending elements of hip-hop, jazz and funk. The eight-piece brass band plays three songs -- "Rebelosis," "Rebel Rock" and "Rebel on That Level" -- turning the red circle into a joyful French Quarter street corner.
Singer-songwriter Elise LeGrow pays homage to early soul and rock innovators with intimate, stripped-down interpretations of their hits. Listen as she and her band perform two of these soulful renditions: Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell" and "Over the Mountain, Across the Sea," first popularized by Johnnie and Joe.
Cellist and singer Helen Gillet mixes her classical training, New Orleans-based jazz roots and free improvisational skills to perform her own eclectic music. In a powerful, melodious performance, she plays her song "You Found Me."
In this talk-performance hybrid, drummer, percussionist and TED Fellow Kasiva Mutua shares how she's breaking the taboo against female drummers in Kenya -- and her mission to teach the significance and importance of the drum to young boys, women and girls. "Women can be custodians of culture, too," Mutua says.
From Beyoncé to Drake and beyond, the world is rocking to the rhythm of Afrobeat. Feel the music as Kenyan afro-pop superstars Sauti Sol take the TED stage to perform three songs: "Live and Die in Afrika," "Sura Yako" and "Kuliko Jana."
Blues musician Tito Deler combines the sounds of his New York upbringing with the style of pre-war Mississippi Delta blues. He takes the stage, singing and strumming a stirring rendition of his song, "My Fine Reward."
Jacob Collier is a one-man band and force of nature. In a dynamic, colorful performance, he recreates the magical room at his home in London where he produces music, performing three songs in which he sings every part and plays every instrument -- accompanied by kaleidoscopic visuals that take cues from the music and grow in real time.
Harmoniously weaving together the art of dance and the science of mechanical engineering, Huang Yi performs a man-machine dance duet with KUKA -- a robot he conceptualized and programmed -- set to stirring cello by Joshua Roman.
For more than 1,000 years, Khmer dancers in Cambodia have been seen as living bridges between heaven and earth. In this graceful dance-talk hybrid, artist Prumsodun Ok -- founder of Cambodia's first all-male and gay-identified dance company -- details the rich history of Khmer classical dance and its current revival, playing the ancient and ageless role of artist as messenger.
"Music is everywhere, and it is in everything," says musician, student and TED-Ed Clubs star Anika Paulson. Guitar in hand, she plays through the beats of her life in an exploration of how music connects us and makes us what we are.
Rhiannon Giddens pours the emotional weight of American history into her music. Listen as she performs traditional folk ballads -- including "Waterboy," "Up Above My Head," and "Lonesome Road" by Sister Rosetta Tharp -- and one glorious original song, "Come Love Come," inspired by Civil War-era slave narratives.
Where does OK Go come up with ideas like dancing in zero gravity, performing in ultra slow motion or constructing a warehouse-sized Rube Goldberg machine for their music videos? In between live performances of "This Too Shall Pass" and "The One Moment," lead singer and director Damian Kulash takes us inside the band's creative process, showing us how to look for wonder and surprise.
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."
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."
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.
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.
Why do we dance? African-American social dances started as a way for enslaved Africans to keep cultural traditions alive and retain a sense of inner freedom. They remain an affirmation of identity and independence. In this electric demonstration, packed with live performances, choreographer, educator and TED Fellow Camille A. Brown explores what happens when communities let loose and express themselves by dancing together.
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, Legend treats us to his version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song." "Won't you help to sing these songs of freedom?"
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 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."
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.
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.
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.
Abigail Washburn wanted to be a lawyer improving US-China relations -- until she picked up a banjo. The TED Fellow tells a moving story of the connections she's formed touring across the US 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.
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.
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."
To write his first studio album in decades, "A Map of the Floating City," Thomas Dolby has been working in the inspirational setting of a restored lifeboat. At TED2010 he premieres a gorgeous, evocative song from that album -- about one night with a legend. He's backed by members of the modern string quartet Ethel.
Natalie Merchant sings from her poetry-inspired album "Leave Your Sleep," which pairs lyrics from poets -- from Gerard Manley Hopkins to a near-forgotten 10-year-old girl in Brooklyn -- with simple melodies and her unmistakable voice. Stay for an encore performance of her hit "Thank You," dedicated to a notable philanthropist in the audience.
Robert Gupta, violinist with the LA Philharmonic, talks about a violin lesson he once gave to a brilliant, schizophrenic musician -- and what he learned. Called back onstage later, Gupta plays his own transcription of the prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1.