This is a solo show in which Prof. Thomas Dolby deconstructs half a dozen of his best-known songs, telling the story behind their creation while breaking down the beats, chords, keyboard parts, and synth sounds, looping and layering them until he has recreated the entire song. Thomas’ simple rig is a couple of keyboards, a drum pad, and a MacBook, the output of which is projected on a screen behind him, so the audience can see 'under the hood’ while he creates and performs each piece.
Presented by Roland Corp.
About Thomas Dolby
The list of breakthrough innovations in Thomas Dolby's 35-year career is continuous. As an early MTV icon he blazed a trail for electronic music with his imaginative videos. The same year as his own record reached the top of the pop/dance charts, he co-wrote and produced the first ever platinum-selling rap 12” single Magic’s Wand by Whodini. His synth playing and production have graced the recordings of Foreigner, Def Leppard, George Clinton, and Joni Mitchell, earning five Grammy nominations. He appeared live with Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock, with David Bowie at Live Aid, and with Roger Waters at The Wall in Berlin. And his self-penned She Blinded Me With Science became a Top 5 Billboard hit, going on to become an evergreen geek anthem of the 1980s that still pops up in Grand Theft Auto, The Big Bang Theory, and Breaking Bad.
Thomas has created original music for features films produced by George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Ken Russell; he has appeared with The Muppets, and on numerous TV shows from Soul Train to The Late Show.
Sought after as a consultant for tech startups and research companies, Dolby seemed to have a hand in every emerging entertainment platform, from laser disks and computer games to interactive TV, virtual reality installations and location-based entertainment. His name is on multiple US patents, and he has worked as an investment advisor for top venture capital firms. During the early Silicon Valley internet explosion, Thomas founded high tech startup Beatnik Inc. and co-created the code that drove interactive audio in Java. When mobile phones began to play polyphonic ringtones, it was via his BAE technology, which Beatnik licensed to phone manufacturers to be embedded in over two billion cellular phones and devices.
Between adding music to the mix as in-house Music Director of every TED Conference from 2001–12, Thomas taught himself to be a digital filmmaker; and in 2013 he won multiple awards for his groundbreaking film The Invisible Lighthouse, which chronicles the closure of a 250-year-old lighthouse visible from his coastal home in Suffolk, UK.
Since fall 2014, Thomas has held the post Professor of the Arts at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. He has recently released his first book, The Speed Of Sound (Macmillan/Flatiron.)
"He rose during the advent of the British New Wave. But what was he, exactly? A singer-songwriter? Performance artist? Programmer? Engineer, poet, actor, inventor? And if we couldn't be sure, how possibly could he? This is the engaging, emotional, funny and surprising tale of Thomas Dolby—a brilliant multi-hyphenate on his journey of discovery and self-discovery."
—JJ Abrams (Director, Writer, Producer)
"Whatever technology does to musicians will also be done to the rest of us—but to Thomas Dolby first. Professor Dolby's candid memoir is fascinating. Its significance will grow."
—Bruce Sterling (Author of The Epic Struggle of the Internet of Things and The Mirrorshadeanthology)
"Thomas Dolby has had at least four notable lives. The chart topping musician and ubiquitous MTV presence, the Silicon Valley innovator, the music director for TED and then, astonishingly, a professor at Johns Hopkins. His journey is as amazing as the book is well written. From start to finish, I thoroughly enjoyed every page of The Speed of Sound. Brilliant."
—Henry Rollins (Bestselling Author, Journalist, Musician)
"Musician Thomas Dolby debuts with an absorbing account of his pioneering work merging digital music with film, technology, and science. In this story-filled memoir, Dolby draws deeply on his experiences as a synthesized music guru and early internet geek, offering wonderful scenes involving such notables as Michael Jackson, Joni Mitchell, David Bowie, Steve Jobs, and George Lucas. His innovative accomplishments, rendered in fascinating detail here, are legendary."
—Kirkus, Starred Review
“In his engaging memoir, British New Wave icon Dolby retraces his journey from London stock clerk to pop star to unlikely success as a Silicon Valley pioneer…Dolby’s style—understated but acute—and wealth of anecdotes make for an enjoyable narrative… the bespectacled Brit is more Renaissance man than one-hit wonder.”
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