Saturday, January 7, 2012

Things to Know About Beat Boxing

When hip-hop first gained widespread attention in the 1970s, few people anticipated how extensively the associated customs and artistry would impact the world. Hip-hop has affected not only the global music industry, but also society in numerous countries besides the United States. As a result, the American urban subculture once largely dismissed as an insignificant fad has surpassed its original reputation and earned a prominent, influential place in history.
The unique vocal style known as beatboxing is an essential component of hip-hop music, along with DJing and rapping. Alternatively referred to as human beatboxing, the artistic technique involves using your vocal tract -- your lips, mouth, nasal cavity, throat, tongue and vocal cords -- to mimic sounds from instruments. The instruments are most often percussion, such as drum machines and drums, but bass guitars, synthesizers and others are options, too. When talented beatboxers perform, the sounds they utter are impossible to distinguish from real instruments.
Hip-hop was a New York City phenomenon when mainstream America became aware of it in the late 1970s. Beatboxing originated because many hip-hop performers could not afford expensive equipment to create underlying beats for rap lyrics. Rapper Doug E. Fresh often receives credit for pioneering beatboxing, although Darren Robinson of the group the Fat Boys used the technique around the same time.
Fresh started his professional hip-hop career in 1983. Yet, his position as the first human beatbox was not sealed until 1985, when his group the Get Fresh Crew released the classic singles "La Di Da Di" and "The Show." Both tracks showcased Fresh's impressive vocal percussion skills as a backdrop for the distinctive storytelling rhymes of British rapper Slick Rick.
Beat Boxes
The verb "to beatbox" derives from the noun phrase "beat box," a casual term for rectangular drum machines, or rhythm machines. Early drum machines played recorded electronic percussion sounds repeatedly, making a drummer and drums unnecessary. The instruments eventually added the ability to change the tempo of the sounds with various rhythm controls.
Later drum machines provided even more freedom. Programmable beat boxes debuted in 1975, allowing users to create beats and rhythms. Then analog beat boxes capable of producing peculiar surreal sounds, similar to synthesizers, arrived in 1982. The first analog drum machine was the Roland TR-808, and it has substantially influenced hip-hop and beatboxers.
Human Beatboxes
Beatboxers have their own individual style based on their natural voice and how they manipulate their vocal tract to simulate music and sound effects. Examples of manipulations include articulating sounds while exhaling or inhaling, creating sounds in the throat rather than the mouth and blocking airflow to produce clicks and trills.
Although beatboxers can perform a capella without amplification, a microphone enhances their delivery. Cupping the microphone with a hand, for instance, can change the pitch of vocalizations, and holding the microphone an inch or less from your mouth -- known as the close-mic method -- produces deeper bass sounds. Aspiring beatboxers with a strong sense of rhythm can use such strategies to develop their abilities if they are dedicated and patient enough to continue practicing for years.

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