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Designing Music with Kai Kight

Designing Music with Kai Kight


Thank you. Thank you. Innovation happens at
intersections. Innovation happens at intersections. It’s an idea that’s a concept that’s so true
all across Stanford. That’s why we’ll see business school students taking art classes.
We’ll see three hundred pound football players taking yoga. There’s a creative power that
comes from taking two seemingly disconnected worlds and bringing them together to create
something new. Growing up, I always loved classical music. I loved Beethoven. I loved
Brahms. But I also loved hip-hop. I loved pop music. I loved jazz. I loved the rhythm
and flow of those genres. But it wasn’t until I got to Stanford that I started writing music,
including the piece I just performed for you that combines those worlds together. And I
was really.. thank you! And I was really curious why Stanford – I never thought of myself as
that creative before. I had never written music before I came to Stanford for eighteen
years. Why Stanford? What about the environment? And it really comes down to one idea. And
that idea is that at Stanford, it’s okay and it’s accepted – it’s even celebrated – to
diverge from the linear expected path for success, right? There’s the pre-med student
who only takes biology classes and then there’s the pre-med student that we celebrate at Stanford
who also loves to build chairs in a machine shop or to study Mandarin. Because their mind
can make incredible connections between those different areas. My connection, my intersection
was actually required at Stanford. As Dan said, I’m a design student and for visual
design class two years ago, my professor actually required me to work on music instead of visual
design. He said, “Kai, I know you play the violin.” He’d never heard me play, but he
knew I played and he said, “Kai, I want you to write something for the violin. I want
you to write a composition using these design principles of contrast, of theme, of metaphor.
I want you to apply those to music.” And a whole new world opened up to me for the past
two years. I’ve been writing music ever since because the time I spent with music and the
time I spent with design I didn’t see them as things that are scheduled against one another.
They’re actually forces that work together for me to create a powerful combination for
myself and express something to the world. So this idea of intersection does not have
to end with classes at Stanford. The idea of intersection is the way we see the world.
Meaning the things that we view as side-projects or weird hobbies actually aren’t either of
those. They’re sources of inspiration for us to create the next new thing. Thank you.

Comments (7)

  1. Beautiful piece.  What a talent. Thanks for sharing your interesting journey.

  2. Very inspiring.  Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks Kai. I love it. Probably like many people, my wide interests and meandering career path have been confusing for many people, including myself. Success is so often seen as picking the best ladder and then climbing it as high as you can. If you choose instead to explore many ladders, that can be perceived as a lack of focus. In the end, thought as long as we journey with passion and a commitment to manifest ourselves in a manner in which we can take some pride, it will all make sense in the end!

  4. As you can see and hear from this, I feel so lucky to have been an instructor in the Mayfield Fellows Program at Stanford and learn about entrepreneurship, technology, and the arts with Kai during 2013.

  5. Good composition! Loved the Stanford + Connects in Chicago and it is an added perk to see clips from the other cities on the tour.

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