When you think of innovation and creativity, you think of sliced bread, rotating microwave oven plates, Robocop, star wars, Lady Gaga’s pointy clothes and more. But there’s something which tops the list effortlessly- Beatboxing.
Beatboxing is the art of producing drum beats, various sounds and rhythm patterns by using your throat, tongue, lips and voice. It’s creating music by the most primitive tool ever- Your body.
BEATBOX FROM THE BERY BEGINNING
If you try tracing the history of Beatboxing, Google as usual will hit you with a billion alternatives, each weirder than the next. By the end of which, you become a whimpering mass of confusion trying to cut yourself.
However, what everybody agrees on is the fact that it was created when people couldn’t get the real expensive instruments. Man discovered fire by striking the crudest of stones together. He didn’t need lighters or matchsticks with fancy packaging. He knew what he wanted, and got it by the most primal way. Of course, then commercialism hit and screwed him over. But that’s a rant for another post.
The point is, Beatboxing is like fire. It was developed in the shady corners of ghettos, where instruments still were a decade and a revolution away. But music, as it always does, reared it’s pretty head and like fire, found the most accessible port to come out of- The mouth. The moans and the grunts of Jazz singers, the perfectly timed bippidy boop bops of the barbershop quartets, the clapping and the hitting of the beautifully broken hearted blues artists, the harmonizing of the mysterious troubadours, they all played a defining role in the history of Beatboxing.
The Disco three or the three ‘fat boys’ from Brooklyn, Mark “Prince Markie Dee” Morales, Damon “Kool Rock-Ski” Wimbley, and Darren “Buff the Human Beat Box” Robinson, in 1983, won a talent contest by this technique. They are said to be some of the first Beatboxers. Buff Love, or Buffy, helped the group win the talent contest by using his mouth to recreate hip-hop rhythms and various sound effects.
What draws me to this art is the pure rawness which the Beatboxers exude. It’s like their bodies absorb music, which they can use/alter/mould at their own will. It’s like the poetry of the epiglottis. There are no frills and fancies at the Beatbox hood, all there is, is a mike and you. You don’t play percussion, you are the percussion. Also, no heavy equipment to lug around, no wasting money on kickass roadie crews, no tedious soundchecks.
Remember Michael Winslow from the Police Academy movies? He is also known as the vocal effects master. He gave kickass sound effects, which everyone initially thought were fake. He also did behind the scenes sound effects for movies like Back To The Future and such. Definition of awesome is what that man is.
Even though my attempts at Beatboxing sound like multiple burps, and sometimes they are just multiple burps I believe gents and ladies, that I have found my calling. You?
Beatboxing ain’t so obscure in India! We caught up with Vineeth Vincent killin’ the beat in the latest edition of Score Magazine! Exclusive interview + tips await!