“We are all aware that music and “atmosphere” go together. We might put on relaxing music for a quiet romantic dinner, but listen to something livelier while doing some physical work or exercise or when out socialising in larger groups” (1). The main aspects of music can be summed up as tempo, rhythm, pitch, melody, harmony, pattern recognition, culture aspects. When all these elements are combined together, it became an art piece.
One of the neurologists from Columbia University, Krakauer said that music has the ability to stimulate pleasure and reward areas like orbitofrontal cortex, which can be found directly behind one’s eyes, as well as a midbrain region called the ventral striatum (2). Besides that, music activates the cerebellum that falls under the base of the brain which is involved in the coordination and timing of movement. This explained a lot when we saw people grooving along and tapping their feet over the background music in the bar.
We all are familiar with DJs playing music for the crowds or musicians playing all kind of instruments to entertain the audiences. What if I tell you a beatboxer can make the crowds dance only with his or her mouth, lips, tongue and voice? And only two equipments are needed, which are a microphone and a decent sound system. Stop whatever you are doing right now and brace yourself for the finest beatboxer in the world – Reeps One from UK.
Basically, beatboxing is an artistic form of human sound production in which the vocal organs are used to imitate percussion instruments (3). When we talk about beatboxing, the first thing that came to the people’s mind is Hip Hop. There are five elements in the Hip Hop culture, MCing, DJing, Breaking, Graffiti and Beatboxing (4). Therefore, the fifth element of Hip Hop is beatboxing. Back to the early days, Rahzel, Dough E. Fresh, Kid Lucky, Michael Winslow, Biz Markie and Kenny Muhammad are the pioneers of beatboxing. They shaped the beatbox scene in United States in the 80’s as Hip-hop culture got huge.
Things start to evolve from time to time, so as beatboxing. Beatboxing is no longer just about Hip Hop in nowadays. In Urban’s study, he said that a culture is restless like an itchy movement as the future is mysterious and unpredictable (5). New school beatboxers are exposed to all kind of music genres like Electro, Drum and Bass, Dubstep, Trap and even Jazz. Exactly like the routine we heard from above video that has Electro and Dubstep influences in it.
Other than music genres, from the cultural perspective, one who lives in a specific geographic region that speaks certain language will also be able to influence one’s beatboxing style. Based on an interview that carried out by Beatbox Battle TV, Skiller, the 2012 world beatbox champion title holder said that Bulgarian’s language is sharp and short which allowed him to develop extremely fast beats. With no doubt, he is known as one of the fastest beatboxers in the world.
The latest Beatbox Battle World Championship (BBWC) happened last year May and that was the fourth time since 2012. BBWC is the biggest day for every single beatboxer around the world. Not only it nominates the world champion but also celebrate the art form by gathering all beatboxers across the world in Berlin. More than 170 beatboxers from 46 countries, including USA, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Russia, South Korea and almost the entire European continent, will compete in four different categories: Men, Tag-Team, Female and Crew Battle. 1,500 spectators were expected to watch the BBWC live at the Astra Kulturhaus in Berlin’s nightlife district in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. Live stream on Youtube have also attracted thousand of beatboxers who were watching it online.
It is amazing to see everyone comes together as a family without speaking the same language yet still able to interact with each other just because we share the same passion. Reeps One, the 3 times UK Champion said beatboxers do not need to be able to speak English. When the other beatboxer heard you splitting beat, naturally he or she will come in and start jamming.
The positive vibe and sense of community is indescribable. Beatboxers from one country will always love to host another beatboxer from somewhere in their hometown. This gives us the opportunity to learn from each other in term of skill as well as get to know the local scene better. Last but not least, many still agree that beatboxing is still an underground scene. However, as time goes by, the art form will continue to grow intensively and all we need to do is wait for it.
(1) Paterson, J., 2016.What is music? how it affects moods, emotions, creating atmosphere. [online] Mfiles.co.uk. Available from: http://www.mfiles.co.uk/what-is-music.htm [Accessed 27 Feb. 2016].
(2) Krakauer, J., 2016.Why do we like to dance–And move to the beat?. [online] Scientific American. Available from: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/experts-dance/ [Accessed 27 Feb. 2016].
(3) Proctor, M., Bresch, E., Byrd, D., Nayak, K. and Narayanan, S., 2013. Paralinguistic mechanisms of production in human “beatboxing”: A real-time magnetic resonance imaging study.The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 133 (2), 1043.
(4) Bobakova, D., 2013. Youth culture and problem behaviours in Slovakia: Hip-Hop, Techno-scene, Metal, Punk, Skinhead, and Roma.
(5) Urban, Greg. 2001. “The Once and Future Thing” Metaculture: How culture moves through the world. U of Minnesota Press. Available from: https://youthcultureandmedia.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/metaculture_how_culture_moves_through_the_world.pdf %5BAccessed 27 Feb. 2016]