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January 24, 2013

The Science Behind Beatboxing

Fox News:

Using the mouth, lips, tongue and voice to generate sounds that one might never expect to come from the human body is the specialty of the artists known as beatboxers. Now scientists have used scanners to peer into a beatboxer as he performed his craft to reveal the secrets of this mysterious art.

The human voice has long been used to generate percussion effects in many cultures, including North American scat singing, Celtic lilting and diddling, and Chinese kouji performances. In southern Indian classical music, konnakol is the percussive speech of the solkattu rhythmic form. In contemporary pop music, the relatively young vocal art form of beatboxing is an element of hip-hop culture.

Until now, the phonetics of these percussion effects were not examined in detail. For instance, it was unknown to what extent beatboxers produced sounds already used within human language.

To learn more about beatboxing, scientists analyzed a 27-year-old male performing in real-time using MRI. This gave researchers "an opportunity to study the sounds people produce in much greater detail than has previously been possible," said Shrikanth Narayanan, a speech and audio engineer at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. "The overarching goals of our work drive at larger questions related to the nature of sound production and mental processing in human communication, and a study like this is a small part of the larger puzzle.

Read more.

Posted by acapnews at January 24, 2013 12:00 AM

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