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Full Spectrum Auditions

Onyx Ashanti: This is beatjazz

May 24, 2011

Musician and inventor Onyx Ashanti demonstrates "beatjazz" -- his music created with two handheld controllers, an iPhone and a mouthpiece, and played with the entire body. At TED's Full Spectrum Auditions, after locking in his beats and loops, he plays a 3-minute song that shares his vision for the future of music.

Onyx Ashanti - Beatjazz inventor and controllerist
Onyx Ashanti is the inventor of "beatjazz" -- a new way to make music. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
(Music)
00:18
Text: BeatJazz.
00:32
BeatJazz is:
00:54
1. Live looping,
00:56
2. Jazz improvisation
01:00
And
01:02
3. "Gestural" sound design.
01:05
Accelerometers
02:27
on each hand
02:29
read hand position.
02:31
The color of the lights
02:52
indicates which sound I am playing.
02:56
Red = Drums,
03:02
Blue = Bass,
03:06
Green = Chords,
03:17
Orange = Leads,
03:22
Purple = Pads
03:24
The mouthpiece
03:38
consists of ...
03:41
a button,
03:43
two guitar picks
03:45
and lots of hot glue.
03:49
The heads-up display
04:40
is a smartphone that displays system parameters.
04:43
Why?
04:57
To atomize music culture
05:00
so that ALL past, present and future genres
05:03
can be studied and abstracted, live.
05:05
And
05:08
"BeatJazzers"
05:10
become as common as D.J.'s.
05:13
But mostly ...
05:21
to MAKE the future
05:26
rather than wait for it.
05:31
(Applause)
06:13

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Onyx Ashanti - Beatjazz inventor and controllerist
Onyx Ashanti is the inventor of "beatjazz" -- a new way to make music.

Why you should listen

Onyx Ashanti is a musician, geek, open-source advocate, Maker, collaborator ... and we come back around again to musician. The intrumentation he has created fuses technique and technology into a full-body musical system, playable with hands, arms, mouth and body. As he says:

I am what can only be described as a cyborg musician.  in other words, the music i create live, can not be replicated without technology. My music is called "Beatjazz." It is a mix of sound design, live looping and jazz improvisation. My instrument of choice over the years has been a Yamaha Wind MIDI controller, but now the limitations have started to stunt the growth of this new form, so i designed an instrument that can take it into future.

He is now working on the next iteration of his instrument, codenamed Tron, and built around a helmet-mounted controller.

The original video is available on TED.com
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Data provided by TED.

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The developer's blog is here.