Mark Applebaum
Composer / Performer / Educator

TEDx Talk

Aphasia score sample

My TEDx talk has been seen by 1.2 million viewers, thus making it (unpredictably and certainly without commensurate merit) my most known enterprise. In it I talk about how boredom is the principal motivation behind my work, as well as the provocation to undertake roles ancillary to the narrowly circumscribed definition of composer: choreographer, carpenter, dramaturge, inventor, etc. This talk is not especially brilliant, but it does succeed at two things that are essential to me: it signals my dedication to far-flung artistic experience even when such polyartistic pursuit (to borrow Richard Kostelanetz’ term) risks criticisms of dilettantism; and it unexpectedly serves as a beacon, eliciting far-flung expressions of meaningful resonance—email depositions that arrive weekly: a catalyst for an elementary school teacher to change her curriculum; a role model for a disenfranchised teen who, until he discovered my work, felt alone; etc. In my work deliberately pitched at more specialized (elite, esoteric) audiences these precious prizes remain comparatively elusive.

Postscript: The title The Mad Scientist of Music was not mine; TED invented that after the fact. My first slide—visible in the auditorium—had the somewhat more sober if less exciting title Boredom: The Real Secret behind Innovation.

See the talk here.