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TEDxSydney

Tom Thum: The orchestra in my mouth

May 4, 2013

In a highly entertaining performance, beatboxer Tom Thum slings beats, comedy and a mouthful of instrumental impersonations into 11 minutes of creativity and fun that will make you smile. (Filmed at TEDxSydney.)

Tom Thum - Beatboxer
Hip-hop musician Tom Thum whirls together beatboxing, performance and an array of mouthsounds. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
My name is Tom,
00:11
and I've come here today to come clean
00:13
about what I do for money.
00:16
Basically, I use my mouth in strange ways
00:20
in exchange for cash.
00:23
(Laughter)
00:26
I usually do this kind of thing in seedy downtown bars
00:27
and on street corners,
00:30
so this mightn't be the most appropriate setting,
00:31
but I'd like to give you guys a bit of a demonstration
00:35
about what I do.
00:38
(Beatboxing)
00:45
And now, for my next number,
02:13
I'd like to return to the classics.
02:17
(Applause)
02:22
We're going to take it back,
02:24
way back,
02:26
back into time.
02:28
(Beatboxing: "Billie Jean")
02:33
♫ Billie Jean is not my lover ♫
02:53
♫ She's just a girl who claims that I am the one ♫
02:57
♫ But the kid is not my son ♫
03:02
(Applause) All right.
03:06
Wassup.
03:13
Thank you very much, TEDx.
03:16
If you guys haven't figured it out already,
03:18
my name's Tom Thum, and I'm a beatboxer,
03:21
which means all the sounds that you just heard
03:23
were made entirely using just my voice,
03:25
and the only thing was my voice.
03:28
And I can assure you
03:31
there are absolutely no effects
03:32
on this microphone whatsoever.
03:37
And I'm very, very stoked —
03:42
(Applause)
03:45
You guys are just applauding for everything. It's great.
03:46
Look at this, Mom! I made it!
03:50
I'm very, very stoked to be here today,
03:54
representing my kinfolk
03:57
and all those that haven't managed to make a career
03:59
out of an innate ability for inhuman noisemaking.
04:02
Because it is a bit of a niche market,
04:06
and there's not much work going on,
04:09
especially where I'm from.
04:11
You know, I'm from Brisbane,
04:13
which is a great city to live in.
04:14
Yeah! All right! Most of Brisbane's here. That's good.
04:16
(Laughter)
04:19
You know, I'm from Brizzy,
04:20
which is a great city to live in,
04:23
but let's be honest --
04:24
it's not exactly the cultural hub of the Southern Hemisphere.
04:26
So I do a lot of my work outside Brisbane
04:30
and outside Australia,
04:33
and so the pursuit of this crazy passion of mine
04:35
has enabled me to see
04:38
so many amazing places in the world.
04:39
So I'd like to share with you, if I may, my experiences.
04:42
So ladies and gentlemen,
04:47
I would like to take you on a journey
04:49
throughout the continents
04:52
and throughout sound itself.
04:54
We start our journey in the central deserts.
04:58
(Didgeridoo)
05:02
(Airplane)
05:12
India.
05:16
(Beatboxing)
05:17
(Sitar)
05:31
China.
05:36
(Guzheng)
05:38
(Beatboxing)
05:51
Germany.
05:58
(Beatboxing)
06:00
Party, party, yeah.
06:18
(Laughter)
06:20
And before we reach our final destination,
06:25
ladies and gentlemen,
06:29
I would like to share with you some technology
06:30
that I brought all the way from the thriving metropolis of Brisbane.
06:33
These things in front of me here are called Kaoss Pads,
06:36
and they allow me to do a whole lot of different things
06:40
with my voice.
06:43
For example, the one on the left here
06:45
allows me to add
06:48
a little bit of reverb to my sound,
06:50
which gives me that --
06:53
(Trumpet) --
06:55
flavor.
07:01
(Laughter)
07:02
And the other ones here,
07:04
I can use them in unison
07:05
to mimic the effect of a drum machine
07:08
or something like that.
07:10
I can sample in my own sounds and I can play it back
07:11
just by hitting the pads here.
07:14
(Noises)
07:19
TEDx.
07:33
(Music)
07:39
(Applause)
07:57
I got way too much time on my hands.
08:01
And last but not least,
08:06
the one on my right here allows me to
08:07
loop loop loop loop loop loop loop loop
08:10
my voice.
08:14
So with all that in mind, ladies and gentlemen,
08:16
I would like to take you on a journey
08:19
to a completely separate part of Earth
08:22
as I transform the Sydney Opera House
08:24
into a smoky downtown jazz bar.
08:27
All right boys, take it away.
08:31
(Music)
08:35
Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you
08:45
to a very special friend of mine,
08:47
one of the greatest double bassists I know.
08:48
Mr. Smokey Jefferson, let's take it for a walk. Come on, baby.
08:50
(Music)
08:55
All right, ladies and gentlemen,
09:38
I'd like to introduce you to the star of the show,
09:40
one of the greatest jazz legends of our time.
09:42
Music lovers and jazz lovers alike,
09:45
please give a warm hand of applause
09:47
for the one and only Mr. Peeping Tom. Take it away.
09:49
(Music)
09:53
(Applause)
09:58
Thank you. Thank you very much.
11:14
(Applause)
11:16

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Tom Thum - Beatboxer
Hip-hop musician Tom Thum whirls together beatboxing, performance and an array of mouthsounds.

Why you should listen

Coming out of the small Brisbane, Australia, hip-hop scene, Tom Thum has become a world presence with his unhuman beatboxing sound. In 2005, he and Joel Turner won the team battle in the World Beatbox Championships, and Thum came second at the Scribble Jam Beatbox Battles, America’s most prestigious hip-hop competition, in 2006. He's a cast member in the hip-hop/circus performance troupe Tom Tom Crew, appearing on Broadway and London's West End.

Thum is also committed to teaching hip-hop, and travels throughout Australia sharing the positive message that music preaches.

The original video is available on TED.com
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