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David Tao

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(Applause) How are you guys doing? How are you guys doing? (Audience: Great!) OK Before getting to the connection between "unlearning" and me, I'd like to hear what you have in your mind first. Speaking of "unlearn", it is an English word. Actually, I was just talking to another speaker about this. Actually, "unlearn" is not really an English word; "learn" is, but "unlearn" is not an actual English word. So what is "unlearn"? What does unlearn mean to you? (Audience: let go.) Okay, good. I think "letting go" is one of its definitions. Anything else? Help me out here! Janet, what do you think? What is "unlearn"? (Janet is speaking.) The opposite of learn. Okay, could be. Anything else? You guys are not awake yet, are you? Haven't had breakfast, haven't drunk any coffee yet. How about people in the back? What does unlearn mean? OK. Learn from me? Old becomes new. Great. I think this connects well with what Liu Shiuan just said. To me, we actually mentioned a few different definitions. The closest one, I think, is "to forget". To forget about what you have learned. Of course the condition is you need to learn first. One thing you need to understand beforehand is that if you haven't learned, it's hard to forget it. So to me, I started learning music when I was a kid. I was about 15 when I started learning music. As I started learning guitar, at that time, I remember a very famous musician. He once said, "Learn everything you can, and then forget it." So, at that time, no matter what music genre is, any kind of guitar, from classical to folk music to rock 'n roll or even ... for instance, heavy metal, I tried learning anything. After I was done learning, I found that, "Wow! I know how to play it." I could talk about all these different types of music. Then, forget about them all. But why? Because, when you are listening to a musician playing his songs or music, you don't wish to hear his skills, you don't want to hear the technique. You want to hear the music. So, I think to forget something I've learned is really an important task. The second definition of "unlearn", I think you could say it is "deconstruct" - how to deconstruct one thing. In my albums, I have done some things, like what Liu Shiuan just did, I took some very classic old songs, the songs that everyone is really familiar with, such as "Wang Chun Feng", "Ye Lai Xiang", "The Moon Represents My Heart", etc. then to cover these songs. Till then, I found out I needed to do one thing first, which was to deconstruct these songs. I needed to listen to many different versions. Listen to them, and study them. After deconstructing the songs. Then I had to put the pieces back together. Therefore, I could really create something new. So let's hear the version that everyone might be more familiar with the one that's more traditional, such as "Wang Chun Feng" Let's listen to it. (Music) (Taiwanese) (Taiwanese) (Taiwanese) (Taiwanese) OK, this is a very traditional version. It's probably the version of "Wang Chun Feng" from the time of "Bai Guang". So after listening to these different versions, I digested and deconstructed them. So in 1997, I made my own version. Let's listen to my "Wang Chun Feng". (Taiwanese) (Taiwanese) I was actually using acapella and vocal to make this. It reminds me of something I am about to say, which is critical to and related to "unlearn". It is when the song was released, I heard two extremely different comments. One said, "Wow! So cool, so novel, very creative." whereas some others could not accept it. Why? Because we are all creatures with habits. We human beings... are creatures with habits. Once we get used to one thing, we will think that is absolute. So, it leads to "unlearning". I think one of its meaning is to "change" some of our habits. When I was working on ... my second album, it was about 1998, or 1999, I just started making music with computer. Before it was mostly done in a big studio with some of those big machines. At that time, I did one thing. Well, it was a bit painful at the time. but I did my second album on my own. I went to buy a computer along with some software. I started learning how to operate them. I did the recording and the mixing on my own. So about 80% of my second album was done by myself. I did all those in the living room of my house in L.A. This kind of change, constantly changing our own habits, I think really has something to do with "unlearn". The fourth critical one related to "unlearn" is what we often hear, "reset". How to make ourselves reset to zero. I really think it's a difficult task. Take my third album, which is "Black Orange". I found I had completely lost the drive to create music. I had no idea why I should do music. After releasing three albums, I received some awards, made some money, but so what? What is the purpose of doing music? I actually had lost myself. So I was reset. I didn't intentionally reset myself though because I wasn't able to do so. But there was one thing that reset me. It was the 911 terrorist attack. Those terrorists attacked New York. This incident had a great impact on me and reset me in a way. It made me realize why I am doing music. Because of that, this "Black Orange" album was made. It is also something that can express what I feel towards this environment. You could say that. OK. The final definition related to "unlearn" is to "let go". Someone here mentioned about this not long ago. How to let go? I think "letting go" is close to the traditional Chinese teachings. Such as, Confuciusism, Tao Te Ching, or even Lao Tzu. It also refers to how to let go of one thing. For me personally, I am very stuburn. So it is very difficult for me to let go of some things. For example, when I was working on my first album, I composed a song. It is called "10:30 at the airport". I was very satisfied with my original demo when I made it. I said to myself, "Wow, this is perfect!" OK, but after I was done, the company told me, "David, we are going to start recording your album. So you need to recompose this song." At that time, I was not able to let go of the love and the feelings I have for the original demo. So now, I would like to let everyone listen to my original demo, the one I made at home. The demo of "10:30 at the airport." (Music) This was made in 1993 or 1994. After I finished this song, of course many people covered this song after it was released. So here's another version made by a friend of mine. Let's listen to it. (Music) I think he unlearned very well, because he really deconstructed my song. He gave this song a new face. What we are about to listen to is my final version. My album version. "10:30 at the airport" (Music) OK, so I think the process of this "unlearning" is what we need to do constantly. I, in the journey of doing music, also have been pushing myself. Sometimes involuntarily, sometimes I am unlearned or changed intentionally. I also mentioned that I was in fact a person standing right at the interception of the "unlearn". It seems like I have to start to relearn again everyday. Forget, learn, and then forget many things because I am currently changing my path to make movies. Speaking of movies, let me share a movie with you. Which movie? You should have already seen it. The director, everyone might be a bit familiar with, is Christopher Nolan. The recent movie, Inception, could be considered an eye-catching movie. He directed a movie a few years ago, which is "Batman - The Dark Knight." Then "Batman Begins." I think the director is a master of "unlearn" or "unlearning". A great master. Let's talk about "The Dark Knight." Either its story plots, its photographing, or its actors or even its special effects, I think they all are worth talking about. From its story, the series of this comics, Batman, has been more than 60 years. It has had many incarnations or versions. whether it is comics. Tim Burton has directed many of this series. So everyone must have had some ideas about this franchise. Christopher Nolan has successfully deconstructed its original idea and created something totally new. I think this must have required a lot of tasks. From the viewpoint of filming, this is the first action moive that used IMAX machines. Usually we use IMAX machines to film something about nature, such as polar bears, etc. This time, he used a big complex machine to film this movie. Let's take a look at this. IMAX machine is very huge. The smallest IMAX machine weighs about 100 pounds. On top of that, there's a steady cam unit. It is over a hundred pounds. It's a very very heavy piece of equipment. So why did he want to have a challenge this big? Even his photographer said, "I think I was taking an IMAX course for the first two weeks when we were filming this movie." It is a very difficult machine to operate. There are only four in the world. They destroyed one while filming. Take a look at its negative. The biggest one is the negative for IMAX. It is many times bigger than the 35mm negative for a traditional one. The reason is that he wanted to give this film a bigger and more shocking effect. Its resolution is very very high. So I think He has challenged all his coworkers. He also challenged his audience. From another point of view to look at it, he actually learned to give up what he has learned and given everyone of us a new viewpoint. I think ... of course this time, one of its main actors, everyone is very familiar with, died not long after the movie was out. It's Heath Ledger. Heath Ledger chose to lock himself in a hotel in London for a month in order to prepare for this character without having any contact with outside. He was there to unlearn to prepare for the role. Of course everyone knows he was in the movie "Broke Back Mountain." From that type of character, to Joker, indeed it needs a lot of "unlearning", a process of letting go. Its special effects are also worth mentioning. It is that he didn't use CGI (Computer-generated Imagery) which is widely used in many of the movies nowadays. Not even computer animated graphics. He used real fights, real explosions, and real actions. Why? He indeed wanted to give every moviegoers a real sensation. This not only challenged himself, but also those who worked with him. I believe if I worked for him, I would pretty much hate Christopher Nolan for always giving us more trouble. But I think he was willing to unlearn and brought the whole team along to unlearn. Let's see if you could recall anything while listening to the music in the film. (The music from the Batman) When you hear the music, you know the Joker is going to say, "Why so serious?" That part is coming, the most evil part. This music ... used traditional cello along with guitar. So it used some traditional techniques. But because it went through the "unlearn" process, so a new and innovative music was created. Right here, I am glad to be able to share the journey of my music with you all, and I hope everyone can learn "to unlearn". Thank you, everyone! Thank you! (Applause)

Video Details

Duration: 15 minutes and 22 seconds
Country: Taiwan
Producer: The Big Question Ltd.
Director: The Big Question Ltd.
Views: 166
Posted by: tedxtaipei on Nov 30, 2010

David Tao speaks at TEDxTaipei

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