I haven’t talked much about the TED Conference, an annual event in Monterey California. I have been its Music Director for the last 5 years, and it’s been a fantastic experience. Up until now it was pretty inaccessible to mere mortals, given that the tickets are expensive and usually sold out a year in advance. I always found it a hard thing to explain to the uninitiated, but this year TED has begun podcasting selected sessions from the conference, so I recommend you check it out. You can now download clips of talks given by some of the most brilliant minds on the planet to an audience of their peers, with no constraints from government or corporate agendas. You can watch them on your computer or iPod. I even have a friend in LA who has never attended, but who has started throwing spontaneous TED parties at her place, where a bunch of friends or workmates come over and watch a few TED presentations on her plasma screen.
You can get the TEDtalk podcasts here.
The music I put together for the show varies from year to year. I try to be relevant to the topics we’re covering. I book talent to play live music in between the talks; sometimes it’s world-class acts, other times it’s complete unknowns I’ve discovered in my travels. We have a partnership with Joe’s Pub (the New York venue I played last Spring) that allows us to try acts out there and pick the ones we think would work well at TED.
In addition, I play original music myself to set the tone for each of the 12-some sessions over the four days of the TED Conference. Some years I’ve played a solo instumental piece to introduce each two-hour session; one year I had an excellent 4-piece house band; in 2005 I debuted my ‘sonifications’; and this year I performed with a pair of graffitti artists who painted the titles to each session while I built up looped tracks from scratch.
One of the presenters this year was Peter Gabriel, who was there to talk about a cause that’s dear to his heart. I’d met Peter before and found him very affable, so I took the liberty of sampling one of his most famous tunes and mashing it up with a new piece of my own. The session was entitled ‘The World Flattens’ so I triggered some sound bytes from my own Flat Earth Lecture. I think Peter was sitting in the front row when I played it. As TED is for a good cause I’m sure Peter won’t mind if I put a recording of my performance up online!
[Edit, Aug 22nd]Â
However, after sleeping on it, I decided I don’t feel comfortable putting the MP3 up there, given how miffed I was when K-Fed essentially did the same thing to me. I don’t want to be a hypocrite so I’ve taken the track down. Those few of you that listened it yesterday or this morning–I hope you relished the experience!