Ingenious: Vijay Iyer – Issue 18: Genius

The scientific debate over genius usually boils down to the question, “Does brilliance spring from lucky genes or 10,000 hours of gritty study?” To judge from a relatively recent batch of books like Outliers, The Genius In All of Us, and Talent Is Overrated, nurture has won the upper hand on nature and a new truth has been ordained: Practice hard, kids, and you will be the next Mozart.

But what does the artist say? Better yet, the artist with a scientific background? Vijay Iyer seemed ideal to ask. A 2013 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, the musician is versed in seeing the world through the lens of science. Iyer’s Yale undergraduate degree in math and physics paved the way to his Ph.D. in technology and the arts at the University of California, Berkeley. The jazz pianist has recorded over 15 albums and in 2012 was voted Jazz Artist of the Year in the DownBeat International Critics Poll.

This video interview is a companion to “Genius Is in the Groove,” our story last week, in which Iyer gave us a guided tour, at the piano, of the singular musical elements that define the brilliance…
Read More…

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