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Ted Talks That Have Great Insight Into Jazz Music

Jazz music is varied and can be complex, but Ted Talks are a great way to learn more about the genre. Increase your knowledge and further your appreciation of jazz by watching four of our favorite talks:

There are No Mistakes on the BandstandStefon Harris – Jazz Vibraphonist

In this 13-minute talk, vibraphonist Stefon Harris discusses how “every mistake is an opportunity in jazz.” That is, he points out the fluidity of jazz music and how nothing has to be a mistake if you react smoothly and carry on with the piece. In order to drive home his point, the talk is interspersed with short clips of improvised jazz – which gives his talk life!

Your Brain on Improv: Speaker, Charles Limb – Researcher

Improvisation is a fundamental building block of jazz music. Have you ever wondered what musicians are thinking about as they improvise through a set? Doctor and musician Charles Limb discusses his research about this very concept in this interesting and evidence-based talk. He shows several experiments involving professional jazz players memorizing a piece and/or improvising music, and even compares the jazz research to improvisation in freestyle rap. As both a doctor and musician, his insights on this topic are fascinating!

How Architecture Helped Music Evolve: Speaker, David Byrne – Musician, Artist, Writer

In this unique take on music history, Grammy award-winning musician and artist David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame) delves into the relationship between architecture (mainly music venues) and the evolution of music through time. Jazz music, David posits, was born out of dance halls where people would ask the band to play the same part over and over again. The bands would improvise over that part to make it more interesting. David’s conventional perspective on this topic, paired with his unconventional personality makes this video an entertaining watch!

A Different Way to Visualize Rhythm
: Speaker, John Varney – Educator

This talk by John Varney delivers something a little different, as it’s an educational animation which explores a new way to visualize rhythm (as opposed to the standard bar scale). Watching the animation will open your eyes to the math and patterns behind all types of music, including jazz. We love to learn old things in new ways, and this video does just that!


Whether you already love jazz, or are just starting to become interested in the genre, we hope these four videos helped you to learn more about a niche of music loved around the world. Ted Talks are a wealth of information for everyone to enjoy and grow. It’s amazing what conference or event attendees can learn from the right speaker, like the ones we’ve shared above. Contact us if you want to add engaging and inspiring speakers to your upcoming conference or corporate meeting.



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