Young guitarist Usman Riaz pulls a rich, swirling sound out of the acoustic guitar.

Why you should listen

TEDGlobal Fellow Usman Riaz is a young Pakistani musician making a worldwide mark with his astonishing and fun-to-listen-to technique. Influenced by percussive guitarists--who move beyond strumming to striking, treating their fretboard like the soundboard of a piano--Riaz makes a sound that feels larger than the instrument itself, with a compelling pattern of repetition and variation that harkens to mystical music traditions.

In 2011, a viral video for his song "Fire Fly" helped bring his sound from the small-but-thriving Pakistani music community to a global audience. He's now collaborating with other musicians in Pakistan and working on a new album of original music.

What others say

“Brilliant brilliant brilliant. How did I miss this?” — Facebook user Kamranraps

Usman Riaz’s TED talks

Usman Riaz on the TED Blog
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Live from TED2014

From 3D animated molecules to tethered kite-copters: A recap of the TED2014 Fellows Talks, Session 1

March 18, 2014

With the TED Fellows, expect the unexpected: 3D animated molecules, tethered quadcopter cameras, death row inmates turned lawyers, quantum chaos. It’s the fifth-anniversary edition of TED Fellows talks, live from Vancouver, and here’s what happened in Session 1. Usman Riaz, musician + artist The Fellows stage comes to life quietly with the melodic strains of […]

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