What is Beatboxing?
Beatboxing (or b-boxing or beat boxing) is the art of using your mouth to create, and imitate different kinds of noises and sounds. Stringing these sounds together in the appropriate sequence creates a rhythm.It is (relatively) new artform, and over time, as the years pass by, beatbox has evolved from rather human sounding effects, to producing sounds that are as least human as possible. If you are an events company looking for a show for all audiences, a teacher looking to have a beat box course for your pupils, or a student/hobbyist interested in learning beatboxing, Charles would like to get in touch with you.
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Now anything goes, from trumpets, to drum beats, to cats meowing, to crickets chirping – the sky is the limit as long as one is creative and daring enough to execute these sounds in his beats. You may use your lips, teeth, tongue, throat, nose, and even the hands to mimic the musical instrument sounds that you are trying to create. In this day and age, beatboxers have been using the human voice to create the craziest sounds ever produced by vocals, and are constantly pushing the limits to best their opponents around the world to create more and more sounds. Beatboxers like Rahzel are famous for being able to beatbox and sing at the same time. It is a form of vocal imitation with no restrictions to the genre of music.
And it doesn’t stop there. Some beatboxers form 2 or 3 man teams to produce music that breaks beyond the physiological limits of having only one mouth.
The Evolution of Beatboxing
We can see how beatboxing evolved over the years. Beatboxers like Doug E Fresh, who calls himself the first human beatbox, is known to have been one of the pioneers of the artform. Back in his day, beatboxing sounded rather human, and if you closed your eyes, you could still tell that a human was doing it. Another pioneer, Buffy, is also famous for his breathing in and out technique of beatboxing. Beatboxers then proceeded on mimic turntable sounds by scratching, and the beatboxer Mr Scratch is very famous for being skilled at vocal scratching. Kenny Muhammad, the performer of the “Wind Technique”, pioneered one of the most important sounds in beatboxing – the Inward K, which is a snare sound that is made by breathing into the lungs. A beatboxer who masters this sound will be able to beatbox continuously without stopping to make the sound of a breath.
The new school beatboxers like Alem and Reeps One then continued to carry the torch, blazing the way ahead to doing fast technical beats (beats that had many “hits” within a certain bar of music. For example, for any given beats per minute (say, 120), the beatboxer who could squeeze in a higher number of sounds per bar is deemed as the more technical beatboxer). Beatboxer Dave Crowe uses alot of electronic sounds to create Dubstep, which is characterised by fast, tightly coiled bass sounds at a speed of around 70-80 bpm. More commercially (in movies), beatboxing was also seen in Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2.
Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect
In beatboxing, as with anything else, practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Practicing the wrong thing will permanently give you wrong results, while practicing the right things will thing will permamently give you the right results.
Therefore, it is important to do 2 things – 1) Log down everything, either by writing into a notebook, and by recording yourself. Feedback is crucial for perfection. and 2) Find a teacher or a coach who is able to guide you through, step by step, as to how to produce the sounds using your mouth. Whether you are training to battle in the next Singapore Beatbox Convention, or just learning how to beatbox for fun, it is important to find a good mentor to walk you through a beatbox course. There are Beatbox Classes in Singapore, and you should check them out if you haven’t been to one.
Speaking of practice and improvement, some beatboxers say that alcoholic beverages helps you to unlock your creativity more during practice. my take on it? Don’t do it. That harmless looking glass of wine is going to dry up your throat and lower your sense of perception. You will be inaccurate without knowing it.
Is Beatboxing and Vocal Percussion the same?
I have read articles, debating the following views:
1) Vocal Percussion is the same as beatboxing, but with more accurate drum sounds.
2) Beatboxing has more sounds than vocal percussion, but it tends to compromise on the accuracy of the sounds.
3) Vocal Percussion is a more mature form of beatboxing, without the hoodies, baggy pants etc.
The above 3 views are inaccurate and untrue, and I will proceed to explain why.
1)Myth One: Vocal Percussionists have more accurate sounds than beatboxers.
Putting beatboxers and vocal percussions into pigeon holes based on sound accuracy is absurd. It is as if, you are “ranked” a “beatboxer” if your sounds are inaccurate, and “ranked” a vocal percussionist as your sounds get more and more accurate. So then, what is the universally acceptable standard to the exact number of accurate sounds that must you have in your arsenal before you can “raise a rank” to become a vocal percussionist? It is just absurd to think that way. Beatboxers who, on the other side of the coin, claim that beatboxers have more accurate sounds than vocal percussionists, are just as absurd.
2) Myth 2: Beatboxing has more sounds than Vocal Percussion, but tends to compromise on the accuracy of the sounds.
Some people also think that Beatboxers have more sound effects, but are less accurate than vocal percussionists. That too, is untrue. This is the same principle as first point – you can’t classify beatboxing and vocal percussion into 2 different ranks. How many sounds a vocal percussionist chooses to learn and is able to learn is up to him/her. Likewise for beatboxers. Its never about how many sounds you know: its about how you use them.
3) Myth 3: Vocal Percussion is the more mature/classier form of beatboxing, with beatboxing more commonly associated with hoodies, baggy pants, etc.
This is also untrue. Does this mean that we all start off as immature beatboxers, and as we mature and change our dressing, we gradually move into the category of “vocal percussionists?” Absurd.
In the first place, when was wearing a hoody or baggy pants immature?
To know the truth, lets look at the origins of the words:
Vocal Percussionist : Someone who uses vocals to make percussion noises.
Beatbox: Originally, it was an electronic drum machine that looked like a box used to produce and sequence beats*. A Human Beatbox is one who produces all these drum noises with his mouth instead.
Now wait a minute. Aren’t these 2 descriptions.. exactly the same?
Yes they are. To me, they are exactly the same, and if you want to put it even more accurately, i would say that Beatboxing is a form of Vocal Percussion.
So don’t let your friends, marketers or anyone else lock you in a pigeon hole that comes with the rest of the stereotypes.
- There are “beatboxers” with accurate and inaccurate sounds, and “vocal percussionists “with accurate and inaccurate sounds.
- There are “beatboxers” who train to get alot of sounds, and some who are still stuck on the 3 basic sounds. Likewise for “Vocal percussionists”.
- And lastly, there are mature and immature “beatboxers”, and mature and immature “vocal percussionists.”
In conclusion, both are the same, and more precisely, beatboxing is a form of vocal percussion.
Beatboxing – A Powerful Show for all Ages
Beatboxing is not a show only for youths and teenagers. A common misconception is that beatboxing is loud, noisy, and only suitable for the younger generation.
In reality, the impact is twice is much when one is able uses beatboxing to do evergreen classics that adults can relate to, or to execute traditional instruments effortlessly.
Top 40s are a great tool that beatboxers use to get youths and adults alike to relate to the song on a deep emotional level.
Charles can perform beatboxing for your event. Open your event with impact, catch your audience’s attention back mid show, or end your event with a unique twist. Contact him today!
Click here to see what is in his beatbox show.
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To see a list of the Different Types of Performances that Charles does, click here.
*(Side note: Some also refer to a beatbox as a large radio / cassette player that plays music that Hip hop dancers or bboys dance to)