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Home » Boredom – the Real Secret Behind Innovation: Mark Applebaum at TEDxStanford (Transcript)

Boredom – the Real Secret Behind Innovation: Mark Applebaum at TEDxStanford (Transcript)

Mark Applebaum

Mark Applebaum – American composer

I thought if I skipped it might help my nerves, but I’m actually having a paradoxical reaction to that, so that was a bad idea. Thank you for that introduction, I was really delighted to receive the invitation to present to you some of my music and some of my work as a composer, presumably because it appeals to my well-known and abundant narcissism.

And I’m not kidding, I just think we should just say that and move forward. So, but the thing is, a dilemma quickly arose, and that is that I’m really bored with music, and I’m really bored with the role of the composer, and so I decided to put that idea, boredom, as the focus of my presentation to you today. And I’m going to share my music with you, but I hope that I’m going to do so in a way that tells a story, tells a story about how I used boredom as a catalyst for creativity and invention, and how boredom actually forced me to change the fundamental question that I was asking in my discipline, and how boredom also, in a sense, pushed me towards taking on roles beyond the sort of most traditional, narrow definition of a composer.

What I’d like to do today is to start with an excerpt of a piece of music at the piano. (Music) Okay, I wrote that. No, it’s not – Oh, why thank you. No, no, I didn’t write that. In fact, that was a piece by Beethoven, and so I was not functioning as a composer. Just now I was functioning in the role of the interpreter, and there I am, interpreter. So, an interpreter of what? Of a piece of music, right? But we can ask the question, “But is it music?” And I say this rhetorically, because of course by just about any standard we would have to concede that this is, of course, a piece of music, but I put this here now because, just to set it in your brains for the moment, because we’re going to return to this question. It’s going to be a kind of a refrain as we go through the presentation.

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