TED Talks Every Musician Should Watch (Part 3)

I have been watching TED Talks proactively almost everyday from the past three weeks. It made me realize that, the more you study, the less you know. I’ve shortlisted 7 brilliant TED Talks for this week that have offered me a new point of view towards appreciating music. Hope they will give you a new perspective on music as well. Let us know what you think in the comments section.

How I Started Writing Songs Again: Sting

“The key to write songs is writing about someone else, but in the process, you tell a lot about yourself.” Sting talks about how he faced a writer’s block that kept him for a long time from writing songs, and how did he overcome by writing songs about shipyard workers where he had spent his early days. In an inspirational talk, Sting spells the audience with his songs, followed by an encore of “Message in a Bottle.”


Music and Math – The Genius of Beethoven: Natalya St. Clair

It may sound counterintuitive, but Beethoven spent most of his life going deaf. You might be wondering, so how on Earth did he come up with stellar compositions? The answer is Beethoven knew how music looked on paper. He said, “I always have a picture in my mind when composing, and I follow its line.” In this talk, Natalya St. Clair makes a case for Beethoven’s musical genius and hidden Math in his compositions.

The World’s Ugliest Music: Scott Rickard

What makes music beautiful is repetition, motifs, and patterns. So, how would the music be if it doesn’t have repetition or patterns? And is it possible to come up with such music? Scott Rickard argues that with the help of Maths it can be done, and gives an example of John Costas, who came up with such pattern by using Costas array which was used to design SONAR ping. It is later demonstrated musically by mapping 88×88 Costas Array on the piano.

Unlocking Music with Neuroscience: Ardon Shorr

Classical music can be boring to listen to, because it is very hard to follow, and it is a learning task. Our working memory is limited, and we can’t feed large amounts of data. Hence, to understand classical music better, Ardon Shorr suggests that it should be learned in chunks. Ardon has designed an open source program called Variations Audio Timeliner to make the learning easier with visualization.

Building the Perfect Guitar: Paul Reed Smith

“Guitars are sophisticated heroin,” says Paul Reed Smith. Guitars are a combination of four things. They are a musical instrument, a part of our heritage, complex tools that musicians use and Applied Physics. Physics theory suggests that all musical instruments are subtractive devices. Based on this assumption, PRS argues that high-quality parts on the guitar don’t add to the sound, but they subtract less.

The goal of building a perfect guitar is when you play it, your brain should experience it as musical, beautiful and powerful. Instead of robbing your energy, it should give you all back.

Your Brain on Improv: Charles Limb

Artistic creativity is magical, but it’s not magic. It’s a neurologic product that can be examined. To understand it, Charles Limb put jazz musicians and rappers in an fMRI, and found out that different brain areas are activated when you are memorizing versus improvising. He aims to decipher the factors that affect creativity, the creative process and creative genius in the future.

Music is Medicine, Music is Sanity: Robert Gupta

Robert Gupta, a violinist, shares his experience of giving violin lesson to a schizophrenic musician, Nathaniel, and how it transformed Nathaniel from being filled with rage to quiet, understanding and grace. The music was being a catalyst in the process. “This is the essence of art. We take something which exists at our fundamental core, our emotions, and through our artistic lens, we can shape the emotions in reality. And the reality of those expressions reaches us, moves us, inspires us and unites us.

If you have missed our previous installments, follow the links below to view them:

TED Talks Every Musician Should Watch (Part 1)
TED Talks Every Musician Should Watch (Part 2)

Hope these videos will inspire you to learn your craft in a better way and get you out of the rut. Did we miss anything? If so, please let us know by sharing it in the comments section. Until next time. Cheers!


Supreme Overlord at Guitar Gabble. Digital Marketer by day. I keep chugging on E5 chord in free time. I also crack bad jokes. Website:

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