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The Science of Dubstep | James Humberstone | TEDxOxford

The theme for TEDxOxford in 2016 was “find X”. In his talk “the Science of Dubstep”, James Humberstone proposes that if this and future generations are going to “find X”, every nation needs to revolutionise education and develop cohorts of workers who can think abstractly.

A composer, technologist, musicologist and music educator, Humberstone claims that music is the most abstract of all the arts and that technologically rich, culturally appropriate musical training could lead that educational revolution, turning the focus away from high stakes standardised testing and toward engaging and inspiring student-centred learning.

Along the way he explains how incredible human perception of sound is, and composes a 12-tone dubstep song with the help of the TED audience! As a composer, technologist and teacher, James Humberstone believes that music education can lead all education through the challenges of the 21st Century.

After all, there is no more experiential, creative, child-centred subject than music – or so he claims. A trained ‘classical’ composer, James migrated to Sydney, Australia in 1997 and has also worked in the fields of music software, education (with children and adults of all ages), and as a musicologist.
Today he is a lecturer in music education at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and remains an active composer. His recent musical output included a permanent electro-acoustic installation at the Australian

National Maritime Museum on board a retired destroyer and a submarine. In 2016 James is collaborating on a Hip Hop album, and composing a song cycle. He has also just released the University of Sydney’s first (free) MOOC, “The Place of Music in 21st Century Education” at This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at